Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Fear Mongering: How Low Can You Go?

One recent morning I opened up the newspaper and found a flyer inserted. From a sheet of goldenrod-colored paper these words screamed at me: "A Body Scan Can Save Your Life!"

Thomas D. Johnson, MD of Ultra Life wants to sell ultrasound scans directly to consumers. Small print discloses that Medicare will not cover the cost. Ultra Life will charge $500 for the holy grail "full body scan" and send test results by mail within 21 working days.

"Dear Ms. Baby Boomer, your results were inconclusive..."

Johnson and Ultra Life will be available by appointment tomorrow in a down-market hotel meeting room. Shame on them!

This is a result of market-based healthcare. Unregulated providers have cherry picked the most expensive, least invasive tests; use sensationalism to scare the public and offer false hope in response. It's evil.

My bottom line is this:
• Early detection of most disease processes is an admirable goal.

• Imaging is one tool that is sometimes helpful

• Diagnostic screening should always be covered by medical insurance.

• Results should be delivered when the patient can ask questions.

A body scan will not save your life. Knowing and ameliorating your health risks by working with credible providers might.

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