Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Kristof's Failed Attempt To Defend ObamaCare

In the 10/12/2012 New York Times article "A Possibly Fatal Mistake", columnist Nicholas Kristof attempted to defend ObamaCare, citing the unfortunate story of his friend Scott Androes who chose not to purchase health insurance, didn't receive a PSA screening test, and then developed prostate cancer.

I feel sorry for Kristof's friend Scott, and I hope he pulls through. 

But Kristof notes:
Let’s just stipulate up front that Scott blew it. Other people are sometimes too poor to buy health insurance or unschooled about the risks. Scott had no excuse. He could have afforded insurance, and while working in the pension industry he became expert on actuarial statistics; he knew precisely what risks he was taking. He’s the first to admit that he screwed up catastrophically and may die as a result. 
Kristof supports the mandatory insurance of ObamaCare as a form of government-paternalism, which will compel others like Scott to act for their own good (as deemed good by the government).

But one piece of information that Kristof failed to mention in his NYT piece is that under ObamaCare, ordinary people like his friend Scott will have an increasingly difficult time getting a routine PSA test.

The USPSTF (US Preventive Services Task Force) is seeking to end routine PSA screening for prostate cancer on the grounds that it is not sufficiently cost effective, the false positives could harm patients, etc.  Under ObamaCare, the USPSTF guidelines will likely become the de facto standards for what services would or would not covered by insurance companies. 

Also note that the President was able to request and receive a PSA test when turned 50 last year. 

It's curious how getting a PSA test is supposed to be a bad choice for American men (so bad that we shouldn't even have the option), but it was apparently ok for the President to get one.

For more on this, see my Forbes piece from 7/5/2012: "Is President Obama's Prostate Gland More Important Than Yours?"

(Also, Nick Gillespie at Reason.com offers his own related critique of Kristof's argument.)