Monday, November 23, 2009

Now It's Obama's "Boob Panels"

The current flap over breast-cancer screening illustrates the utter folly of the government-expert model for health care.

Recently the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued new guidelines for women getting mammograms to screen for breast cancer. It recommended that regular screenings not start till the age of 50.

Unfortunately, the government has been running a PR campaign for decades advising women to seek regular mammograms from the age of 40. Naturally the breast cancer activists are all in a tizzy, and now the White House has gotten into the act trying to damp down the firestorm. Reports Fox News:

The White House went on defense Wednesday about new government findings that advise against routine mammograms for women under 50, saying the guidelines are merely a recommendation and that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that produced the report out this week has "no power" to deny health care coverage.

Well, no. Of course not. No power. Not today. But this is just another outbreak of the "death panel" syndrome. Of course this is just an advisory from a government task force. But you can easily put two and two together and predict that down the road, when ObamaCare is desperately trying to reduce health care costs, that it will start to make the findings of advisory panels mandatory, and that the "boob panel" will decide when and where women can get mammograms.

This is not rocket science. It issues from the very concept of rational government by experts. You set up a bureaucratic program based on rational, scientific findings. You implement the rules uniformly, nationwide.

The problem here is with the whole concept of government health care. In a world of freedom women pay for most of their health care at the point of delivery. Women that believe themselves to be at risk of breast cancer based on family history or other causes pay to get regular mammograms. They discuss the risks with their doctors and they understand that there are risks associated with regular X-rays. No problem here, unless you can't afford a regular mammogram. In that case, you are dependent on the kindness of strangers.

But in the liberal government model, mammograms are a "benefit," paid for by the government-mandated health plan. Whether you like it or not, mammograms are included in the standard benefit package mandated by various government advisory panels. Or they are excluded by order of one of the government expert advisory panels. Now everyone is dependent on the kindness of strangers.

Only trouble that politicians and activists and experts are not kind. They have other interests: power, notoriety, fame, science. To them, any one woman worried about a strange lump in her breast is roadkill, unless she can be used as a helpless victim, a prop in a media report on New Hope for Cancer Sufferers. Even then she is roadkill.

So the solution is not to have dozens of advisory panels mandating this and that. The solution is to have a free and prosperous citizenry that can afford to pay for their own preventative care, if that is important to them, or not, if it is not.

This is important. You can spend you money on cancer screening, or maybe you want to spend it on better schooling for your child. Either way, you are taking a risk. Maybe you should spend the money on screening. Maybe the special enrichment program you send your kid to turns on a lightbulb and changes a life.

It's not a very hard concept to visualize. Not unless you mind is clouded by the idea that government experts make all these decisions: who should have breast examinations and where; which kids have enrichment programs and how.

The concept is called freedom.

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