Reflex: October 20, 2011

The USPSTF says that Pap tests for cervical cancer screening are only needed every 3 years, reports Nancy Walsh. Many women are getting them every year, but “[t]he recommendation is meant to address the concern that many women were being tested too frequently, which could lead to overtreatment of low-grade lesions that might not prove to be cancerous.” Aaron’s comment: If this sounds familiar, it’s because it sounds a lot like the decision for prostate cancer screening and breast cancer screening. Expect the cries of death panels to begin shortly.

Social Security increases will largely be taken up by Medicare premium increases, writes Martha C. White. The Social Security Administration announced a cost of living adjustment of 3.6% for Social Security beneficiaries, but Medicare Part B premiums will similarly increase for many beneficiaries. Don’s comment: the point of the COLA is to account for higher costs of things that beneficiaries buy (like insurance). Readers of this blog will know that health care costs increasing faster than overall inflation simply means that over time we are spending more of our finite resources on health care, but without tax increases or cuts elsewhere, this results in an unsustainable budget. Many say that the increase in health care costs need to be slowed, but we then seem to hate policies that could achieve this goal. An interesting study from the Univ. of Maryland looked in detail at how the public would deal with these tradeoffs; they had more trouble with health care than anything else.

From Austin: Once again, I am pressed for time (sick child this morning). The following item from Igor Volsky’s Morning CheckUp caught my eye, as did the paper on which it is based. The paper is on my reading list.Mental health driving up VA costs: ‘With troops returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan, the cost of medical care for veterans is expected to skyrocket in coming years. A study released Wednesday suggests that a huge chunk of those costs could be devoted to treating the invisible wounds of war.’ [Washington Post]”

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