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President Obama's Colonoscopy

Updated on July 17, 2011

The President Has His Annual Physical

March 6, 2010

While working wit his radical left allies in Congress preparing to force socialized health care on an unwilling American public, President Obama took time out over the past weekend to undergo an annual physical.

This is obviously a wise move for anyone over forty.

However, according to an opinion piece in the March 3, 2010 Wall Street Journal by Dr. Mark Klein, for the colonoscopy portion of the exam the President and his doctors opted for a virtual colonoscopy rather than an optical colonoscopy.

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Same Virtual Colonoscopy Option Not Available to Medicare Patients

This was a wise choice from both a medical and a cost standpoint as it gives more information and is potentially less expensive. Also, being a non-intrusive process, the virtual colonoscopy is a safer procedure.

While the President had the opportunity to choose the type of colonoscopy he was given, the government he leads has denied Americans over 65 the same choice – they have to settle for traditional optical colonoscopies or pay for the virtual colonsocopy themselves as the mandatory Medicare health insurance they have to rely on will not pay for virtual colonoscopies.

Purpose of a Colonoscopy

The purpose of a colonoscopy is to detect polyps in the colon. Polyps are often, but not always, a sign of potential colon cancer.

An optical colonoscopy involves the insertion into the colon of a long, flexible tube equipped with a camera and scissors.

This allows the doctor to both inspect the colon for polyps and, if found, snip and bring them out for a biopsy. This procedure is generally done under sedation and involves some minor risk to the patient both from the procedure itself and from the use of an anestesia.

A virtual colonoscopy, on the other hand, is a non-invasive procedure using a CT scan. In addition to providing a picture of the inside of the colon, the virtual colonoscopy also provides a picture of the area surrounding the outside of the colon.

A Glimpse of What We Can Expect from Obamacare

The virtual colonoscopy is a newer technology that has been endorsed by numerous physician, insurance and other medical groups to be a safe and effective procedure.

However, the Preventative Services Task Force, an independent body appointed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2008 concluded that there was not enough evidence to have Medicare pay for this procedure.

According to the task force there were two problems with virtual colonoscopies. The first was that, unlike optical colonoscopies, virtual colonoscopies can only detect, not remove, polyps.

So if polyps are discovered the patient has to undergo a second, optical colonoscopy, to remove the polyps and this means that Medicare would have to pay twice for that patient. However, according to Dr Klein's article polyps are only found in 10% of patients.

A second problem that the task force (or maybe I should say death panel) is that by showing more than just the inside of the colon there is a risk that the virtual colonoscopy may detect abnormalities outside the colon which would lead to Medicare having to pay for more tests.

The logic behind this line of thinking seems to be to allow the political elite and their death panels to sleep easier at night by simply blocking new technologies thereby avoiding have to decide who gets life saving care and who doesn't because we wouldn't know if other problems existed.

Washington Taking us to Where Others Have Gone and Failed Before

There is no question that the present health care payment system in the United States is inefficient and failing.

However, replacing a bad system with a failed system, like the proposed socialist style Obamacare system, will do nothing more than institutionalize the worst of the present system and simply make matters worse.

However, if history is any guide, we can be certain that, like the nomenklatura of the old Soviet Union, the political class who are seeking to impose Obamacare will make sure that what little quality medical care remains after their plan is in place will be reserved for them and their friends.

Chika's Link to Darlene Sabella's Latest Hubs

At the left are the latest Hubs by fellow Hubber and fellow 30 Hubs in 30 Days Challenger Darlene Sabella.

If it hadn't been for Darleen's challenge we would not be involved in this writing frenzy to produce thirty Hubs in thirty days. So we salute her and encourage you to check out some of her offerings in this challenge.

As I explained in my Hub about this project I also would not have been forced to hire my dog, Chika, to assist me in this project.


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    • profile image

      Madame X 

      8 years ago

      Have you heard about the push for a "28th Amendment"? That Congress has to actually obey the same laws they pass for everyone else. That would be refreshing, although it shows things for what they really are to have to actually put on the table and pass such an amendment . . .

      Excellent hub :)

    • festersporling1 profile image

      Daniel Christian 

      8 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      I have never had this procedure, but I am sure you want the very best which I am sure Mr. Obama has.

    • mkott profile image


      8 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      We should have the same healthcare the the Federal Govt employees get. The FEHBP offers about 300 different private health care plans, including five government-wide, fee-for-service plans and many regional health maintenance organization (HMO) plans, plus high-deductible, tax-advantaged plans. All plans cover hospital, surgical and physician services, and mental health services, prescription drugs and "catastrophic" coverage against very large medical expenses. There are no waiting periods for coverage when new employees are hired, and there are no exclusions for preexisting conditions.

      FGual it is expensive no matter who you are unless you are a millionaire. I know couples (retired, fixed income) that pay almost $600 month for insurance. I for one am a low income, single parent with no insurance. I am almost 50 and need to have my gallbladder removed and cannot afford it. Things are all fine when you have insurance but once you no longer have it, it is depressing. A band-aid is not going to fix our healthcare. No one should be paying on a medical bill for the rest of their lives. I am glad that some of you are able to have your Colonoscopies but some of us can't even afford an office visit.

    • FGual profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      Right on Chuck. Our health care may have problems, may be too expensive for some. But in my opinion it's still the best, and does not need a radical overhaul. We need to make sure that low-income and pre-existing get the care they need, beyond that, we are OK. Free enterprise will zoom ahead of socialism every time. I've had two colonoscopies, each time I did not feel or remember anything. Both doctors were kind and caring, and get an A+ from me. As mentioned before, the worst is having to drink the gunky stuff that cleans out your bowels. They should give it a pleasant fruit flavor.

    • profile image

      GI Doc 

      8 years ago

      Just a heads up. Virtual colonoscopy still requires the prep with terrible diarrhea. Also, you still have to be insufflated with air which is quite painful. If it is negative you have to have them every 5 years instead of 10. If you are unfortunate enough to have a polyp detected you still need to undergo a regular colonoscopy. Virtual colonoscopy also exposes you to high levels of radiation equal to getting hundreds of x-rays and putting you at risk for lymphoma. Finally, there are lots of benign growths and incidental findings that will be picked up and lead to unnecessary workups and more radiation.

      So was he privileged?

    • franslovak profile image


      8 years ago from New Jersey, US

      As a graduate of a recent optical colonoscopy session about a week ago I wish I could have done it the President's way. You will excuse my language but I wish each and every congressPERSON to pass the same procedure while he shits his brains out first. If I am out of place here then forgive me, but this bill makes me to throw up all over my new wireless keyboard again and again.

    • Chuck profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Nugent 

      8 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      SheriSapp - thanks for sharing your experience.

      I would just like to clarify that the purpose of a colonoscopy is to detect the presence of colon polyps which, whether benign or pre-cancerous, need to be removed. Also, it is my understanding that the presence of even benign polyps indicates a possible predisposition to more polyps and possibly cancer in the future.

      The advantage of the older optical colonoscopy is that it can both detect and remove polyps as part of the same procedure.

      The disadvantages of the optical colonoscopy are:

      - I believe it is more expensive

      - It is an invasive procedure that can cause harm as well as it requires an anesthetic which can also result in complications. Both of these dangers are rare and no reason to avoid the procedure - however, since only 10% of the population tested have polyps, we could reduce the dangers further by limiting this procedure to people who have a predisposition for polyps.

      - The process requires that a person take off an entire day from work as well as have someone else drive them home because of the anesthetic which, for people on hourly wages or with limited sick time/vacation available, further increases the cost (and lost wages are not covered by insurance). Also, the preparation required in the days before the procedure are inconvenient and uncomfortable. So, in addition to higher costs, the process itself can discourage people from having it thereby increasing their risk of developing cancer and not detecting until it is too late.

      The advantages of the virtual colonoscopy are:

      - it is non-invasive and requires no preparation which make it both safer and more convenient.

      - the entire thing can be completed in a relatively short time which means less loss of work time. Also, not having to be anesthetized eliminates the need to have someone else drive the patient home and if this is a working spouse or other family member that means that there is no loss of work for that person.

      - The procedure shows both the inside of the colon as well as the area around the outside of the colon so it can detect other problems as well.

      The problems with the virtual colonoscopy are:

      - If polyps are discovered the patient has to undergo and pay for an optical colonoscopy to remove the polyps. This is an added expense and inconvenience. However, once a doctor discovers a propensity for polyps in a patient it becomes foolish for the patient to opt for the virtual colonoscopy knowing that they have a good chance of having to pay for and undergo an optical colonoscopy as well.

      - As to the bureaucrats' other concern that a virtual colonoscopy may detect other things besides polyps and require more tests this is what people refer to as being "penny wise and pound foolish". The bulk of health care dollars are spent on people with advanced or terminal illnesses.

      Only a politician or bureaucrat would choose to save a couple of dollars today and then have to spend thousands in the future because they failed to detect and treat a problem at the beginning.

      Of course politicians and bureaucrats always use other people's money, never their own and their decisions are always determined by the current election cycle so they rarely if ever take a long term view. This is one of the reasons why socialized medicine is always such a total failure.

    • SheriSapp profile image


      8 years ago from West Virginia

      As a 40 year old person who has undergone TWO old-fashioned and invasive colonoscopies, I must say that I support the "real" procedure over the virtual one. I had my first colonoscopy when I was about 29 years old, and the doc found and removed some polyps. Turns out that they WERE pre-cancerous. At that young age, my doc was "amazed" by my pathology. I am happy and grateful I had the type ofprocedure I had, because I would have been pissed tro undergo ANOTHER prep so they could remove and examine the polyps. I was also told I need a colonoscopy every other year FOREVER!!! Thankfully, atmy last procedure in 2008, everything still looked good, and I was told I can have it every 5 years. I am just grateful that I was able to have this procedure that probably saved my life. I think there are reforms needed to our healthcare system, but the entire system should NOT be dismantled and rebuilt. Fix the problems, stop the fraud and waste, and institute tort reform NOW!!

    • Nan Mynatt profile image

      Nan Mynatt 

      8 years ago from Illinois

      Excellent Article, good information for people to learn what the procedures are. My son recently had one done at the VA hospital, they do them every 5 years.

    • Chuck profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Nugent 

      8 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      ocbill - I agree with you that forced insurance is a serious infringement on our freedoms and I believe that there are already lawsuits (which I support) being prepared that will challenge the Constitutionality of Obamacare.

      As to the Bush Administration, I also agree that President Bush was anything but a small government conservative. Growth of government and spending got way out of control with him.

      Dissatisfaction on the part of Republicans and Independents with the Bush Administration had much to do with President Obama's election win (that and many of his slightly right of center campaign promises). This is why most of the Tea Party Movement is disgusted with members of both parties.

      Good comment. Thanks again.

    • ocbill profile image


      8 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

      forced insurance is not freedom to choose. is this even constitutional? another freedom disappearing under a President who who taught constitutional law?

      I disagree with him having radical lefties members in Congress - It was all Bush & Cheney's fault for this to happen if he could've done a decent job, but then the real estate debacle was b/c of Clinton passing a law with the SEC, so Bush had his limitations, well Clinton passed he SEC/easier lending laws due to George Herbert Bush's stagnant real estate market and so on. Pass the buck on. I'll side with the majority on this one. Don't pass it or force it Obama. The will of the people say NO.

    • bobmnu profile image


      8 years ago from Cumberland

      this reminds me of a Dictatorship where the ruling class gets everything and the people get second best. Its no wonder that the people are getting so upset with the government. They get what they want and force us to use second rate.

      Good Hub

    • The Rising Glory profile image

      The Rising Glory 

      8 years ago from California

      I'm with you on this!

    • Winsome profile image


      8 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Excellent Chuck. Your father's situation is the type of thing that the Medicare policy wants to make sure is not discovered by routine procedures or new ones like the virtual c. It is too macabre for words. I hope your hub and others like it catch the conscience of the country and maybe (if they still have one) the press as well. While Obama's reforming medical care, how about giving it a heart transplant as well. =:)

    • Chuck profile imageAUTHOR

      Chuck Nugent 

      8 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      Thanks for all of your comments.

      Dahoglund, I agree that that for most people the procedure itself is not that bad but the advance preparations the week before and especially the night before are anything but pleasant.

      However, I have heard stories about a few people having their colons accidently punctured and I think that the anesthetic they use, at least the ones I have had, are the same ones that killed Michael Jackson - although for colonoscopies they are administered by a professional in a medical setting and only intended to knock you out for an hour or less as opposed to Jackson's experience trying to get 8 hours of sleep in his bedroom with the medication.

      I have had a couple of these and have never been concerned, however, you do have to sign releases warning you that the procedure can be dangerous.

      My Father died a dozen years ago from an intestinal problem. It took doctors about 4 years or more after running numerous tests before they discovered, too late, what his medical problem was. This was before either the optical or virtual colonoscopies were available. However, in his case, the problem was a growth outside his colon so an optical colonoscopy would not have detected his problem even if it had been available while a virtual colonoscopy, if it have been in existence at the time, probably would have detected it.

    • Paradise7 profile image


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Good hub, Chuck!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Very good hub Chuck. You made your point well. I've read about a virtual colonoscopy but I only had the pleasure of having the routine one. It may be a long while before I can be talked into that again!

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 

      8 years ago

      Much better than I thought this subject could be!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I had never heard of the virtual colonoscopy. The worst part of a colonoscopy isn't the procedure itself, its the gund you have to swallow down beforehand.Although it seems like there isn't the volumn of liquid that iot used to be.

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Nice reading.

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 

      8 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Great Hub Chuck, I really like it. Having a colonoscop is not that scary, really it's fast and I have a great doctor. You really only need to go every seven year, but I can tell by my body when it is time. Great hub and thanks for the challange, I am getting so tired, this is hard buddy, coming up with stuff every day. Yucks....


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