Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

Health care in America: No purchase necessary

colonoscopy, Economy, Health care

Have you seen the latest sweepstakes contest?


And if so, have you entered the CBS Colonoscopy Sweepstakes for a chance to win a free colonoscopy in New York City?


What should you expect if you're the lucky winner? the ad chirps.


First, the grand prize winner wins a plane trip to New York with a friend, along with a three night hotel stay. There, after a night spent imbibing laxatives and doing the bathroom dance (you know if you've been there), you are "awarded" the colonoscopy.


 I promise I am not making this up. And it gets better.


The colonoscopy at the Center for Specialty Care will be done by Dr. Paul Miskovitz -- a leading gastro-enterologist in New York City and expert on colorectal cancer. When the colonoscopy is about to begin, you'll be given drugs which will make you feel like you're at Woodstock... only without the music. If you start to believe that you actually are at Woodstock (for example, Dr. Miskovitz starts to look like Jimi Hendrix or you feel inclined to say "far out!" in response to questions), please report the side effect to Dr. Miskovitz or Jimi Hendrix (whomever you see first) immediately.



I don't know whether to weep or laugh. On the one hand, it's good that we can be light-hearted (and a little light-headed) about this useful, unpleasant, and expensive procedure. It's great to bring attention to the need for colonoscopy, which is probably the purpose of the contest.


On the other hand, what this says about our health care system is beyond sad. Recommended diagnostic tests shouldn't be sweepstakes prizes. They should be available, as appropriate, to everybody. In the case of colonoscopy, the general recommendation (no sypmptoms, no family history) is every 10 years starting at age 50.


A colonoscopy costs between $2,000 and $4,000, according to this source. And co-pays (out of pocket charges to the individual) can easily run $1,500. But medical costs in Milwaukee are high, and when I had it done five years ago, the bill was closer to $5,000. I had insurance at the time that covered everything.


If I were to have one now, though, I'd have to enter a sweepstakes. Anyone know the odds of winning?  One in 5,000? One in a million?


To enter the contest, go here.


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