Sorting the Mail in my Mailbox

I don’t know how how I got so popular and well known, but today I got two letters from well-known people. First there was the letter from Peggy Fleming. She was inviting me to have a body scan during screenings coming to my neighborhood in a couple of weeks. She offered it to me at a special price of $129, with osteoporosis screening thrown in for free.

No thanks, Peggy. I have enough money invested in my body already. Besides the expensive crowns in my mouth, not on my head, I’ve got about $400 invested in glasses I’ve been wearing for five years, and now it’s time for new ones with a new prescription. With any luck, I’ll be able to buy them by the end of the year.

Plus we’ve spent several thousand dollars on health care since May after I enrolled in Medicare and the part D supplemental. Secure Horizons through United Health Care, the provider I chose, charges me a co-pay on the full cost of the medication, not on their much lower negotiated costs. In other words, Secure Horizons makes money from both me and the government on my medical treatments.

If body scans are so accurate and good, and cheap, as offered in the letter mentioned above, then why aren’t they covered under Medicare and current health plans? Looks like a good preventative to me–IF they are as good as they’re supposed to be.  As far as I’m concerned, they’re just another way for somebody to make money with little scientific evidence that they’re cost effective. Plus, I understand they are not regulated and operate without any oversight at all.  

Dr. Kristine Spinelli, of the Medical College of Wisconsin where she’s a Professor of Radiology, has looked carefully at the issue of CT whole-body screening. While she agrees that the scans can detect abnormalities,

“It turns out that most of these abnormalities, when looked at closely, do not have an effect on the person’s health and well-being,” she says. “For instance, they advertise that they’re going to find cancer at an early stage. Occasionally that’s true. Everyone has anecdotal cases where they found an asymptomatic cancer that was successfully removed before it could spread.”

“That would be a great example for someone who says everyone should go get a full body scan,” said Dr. Spinelli. “But for most patients, they’re either not going to find anything or they’re going to find something that means nothing. More commonly, abnormal results are from benign processes.”

Now, in the beginning, I mentioned TWO letters. The other was from Mitt Romney who evidently mistook me for a Republican. He’d like to be the new president in 2009. No offense, Mitt, but I’m one of the few Democrats in this red state of Utah, and my retirement income isn’t big enough to give you monetary support.

It’s not that I would only vote for my party–if I felt a Republican, an Independent, or whoever would pull this country out of the mess it’s in, thanks to one of your fellow Republicans, it’s just that a Republican is going to have work a hell of a lot harder to get my attention, and a damn lot hard to get my money. A letter won’t do it.

I have to tell you, Mitt, that your views of health care concern me as well. Since Utah is such a Republican stronghold, I don’t trust individual states to adequately handle something as important as health care for its citizens. It shouldn’t matter whether you live in rural Mississippi or Beverly Hills, California, everyone should have the same basic, good medical coverage. 

As for the plan you instituted in Massachusetts, I’m not knowledgeable enough about it to comment one way or the other, but as far as healthcare being a market-driven entity: Isn’t it already? Health care, first and foremost in my mind anyway, should not be profit driven, and when big business gets into the picture, that’s exactly what it turns into.

As for my letter from Peggy Fleming, and her care for my well-being, I really do appreciate it, even though I’m pretty sure she was paid a hefty sum for the use of her name in the advertising campaign. But you know what would really bother me the most? To find out that she’s invested in one of those body-scanning businesses.  Then I wouldn’t feel so special anymore. I’d feel used.

2 thoughts on “Sorting the Mail in my Mailbox

  1. I once got a letter from Madonna! I kept it in my inbox because it was so funny. She was asking me to vote for Wes Clark in the 2004 primary, which i did, though not because I take Madonna’s advice in political matters.

    I don’t know anything about body scans, but I was struck by this claim here: “If body scans are so accurate and good, and cheap, as offered in the letter mentioned above, then why aren’t they covered under Medicare and current health plans?” You gotta be careful with this line of reasoning because you know the things health plans cover aren’t always rooted in medical practice; they are about making money and politics. For instance, lots of oral contraceptives aren’t covered, and in order for that to be subsidized, doctors have to assert that it’s medically necessary, that women need pills for bad cramps and side effects of menstruating. In other words, insurance won’t cover oral contraception. But…they often will cover viagra. Which has never been medically necessary either, and in fact, unlike most oral contraceptives, doesn’t have ancillary benefits. But it’s a huge money maker. And it’s for men, benefits them primarily (vs. oral birth control, which potentially makes the whole world better because it prevents unwanted pregnancy, abortion, some cancers, etc,” ).

    Anyway, I have no doubt that Peggy Phlegm (as we used to call her) doesn’t have your best interests at heart, and nor does Mitt Romney (who compared his son’s efforts at campaigning for him to soldiers serving in Iraq–how awful and offensive!). But you know better than most people that what insurance companies cover is as political as Romney’s letter…

  2. Excellent points, Vim! YOU should be blogging rather than me. But I guess I have more time–one of the little ironies of life.

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