Final thoughts…

We’ve all gotten used to the idea that we are targets. Between the fine-print designed to limit our rights and recourse, the hacking and identity theft designed to drain our bank accounts, the monopoly-pricing, bankism and corporate manipulation, not to mention the countless ordinary scams, the average citizen is, like fish in a barrel, easy pickings.

Some will say it’s always been so, that those who can, take. But a January 31, New York Times article about the targeting of retirees for unnecessary medical tests made me think that society may have crossed the line of “normal” greed into truly dark territory.

You’ve undoubtedly read about the dollar cost of such tests, implicated in the rise of US health care costs and which physicians usually explain away as defensive medicine, meant to keep them from being sued. But there are other costs as well.

Data from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice shows that there are remarkably high rates of unnecessary medical testing and imaging in the states where retirees congregate, including Florida, Arizona, California, etc.

In Florida, for example, Dartmouth researchers found that Medicare patients in their last two years of life were prescribed tests far above the national average. Think about it. Some of these tests took hours to perform, and all required an investment of time in making the appointment, getting to the testing facility, getting home. Time for these patients in their last months is, clearly, at a premium and yet a large set of physicians were, and are, prepared to take it from them.

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