Uncle Sam’s benevolent, prying eyes are everywhere, especially on matters concerning medicine and health. Now, a little-known federal bureaucracy, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), is recommending that virtually every man, woman, and child over the age of eight be screened for anxiety. This will be an unnecessary and very expensive recommendation.
Unlike recommendations made by other government task forces, those by this agency can have costly consequences. Under federal law, when the USPSTF recommends certain health care screening procedures, they must be covered by health insurers at no cost to the insured, regardless of how expensive or how little benefit results.
Since it was established by the Congress in 1984, the USPSTF has amassed an uneven record when it comes to medical screening recommendations; alternatively recommended and then not recommended screening for breast cancer in women of a certain age and screening for prostate cancer in men.
Notwithstanding this mixed record, the USPSTF has decided that Americans are such a fretful and anxious people, that health care providers should screen them for anxiety and depression, even in the absence of symptoms.
Forcing insurers to cover such asymptomatic procedures at no cost to the insured, simply means that the cost would be passed on to the larger pool of people in those plans by way of increased premiums or reduced reimbursements to the health care providers.
This is but the most recent example of the sleight-of-hand by which Uncle Sam tells a gullible electorate that they are getting something for free or at a reduced cost when the government is simply shifting the cost to be shared more widely. The Biden administration’s college loan forgiveness plan is a similar fraud.
Is screening a large segment of the American population for anxiety and depression, in the absence of symptoms, really a benefit? Or might it fall into the category of “if you are testing me for something, doesn’t that suggest I have what you are testing me for, otherwise why would you be testing me for it?” Considered from this not unreasonable perspective, universal anxiety screening could actually increase the prevalence of anxiety.
Is Uncle Sam himself the cause of our national anxiety?
After all, we have a president who tells us we are on the brink of a nuclear Armageddon or planetary incineration due to “climate change.” If that is not enough to make you anxious, I’m not sure what will. At the same time, we have governments at all levels constantly berating white Americans as irredeemably racist. Could be cause for anxiety there.
With violent crime levels increasing in cities across the country, it should come as no surprise that residents are justifiably anxious, even perhaps fearful. Forty-year high inflation is yet another government-created reason why Americans might be anxious. Then there is the grand-daddy of all anxiety-creating episodes – COVID.
The continuing overreaction to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic by governments from Washington, D.C. to every corner of the nation, fairly shouted “Be Anxious!” “Be Worried!” “Do What We Say, or You Will Die!” Schools closed, learning (such as it was) transmogrified from in-person to online, masks became ubiquitous, businesses closed, restaurants shuttered, friendships faltered, trips were cancelled, and control over our lives was ceded to the government to a degree never before seen.
On top of all that, young students are being prodded into worrying about their gender as young as third grade, along with the media hounding them to be concerned about whether they are LGBTQ+ (or, alternatively, LGBTQ+-phobic). It never ends.
So, let’s get this straight. Government policies, programs, and statements create ever increasing levels of anxiety among children and adults, which in turn prompts a powerful panel of government “experts” to recommend that everyone be screened for “anxiety,” regardless of the presence of any symptoms, and to be paid for by insurance companies whether they choose to or not.
It therefore should surprise no one if in the years ahead we see significantly increased levels of anxiety in the population. Signs of “anxiety” such as eating too much, poorer grades in school, and increased irritability will be especially easy to find among teenagers, for whom anxiety has been a normal part of growing up for centuries. The difference now will be a monetary incentive to find anxiety, followed by Big Pharma supplying the meds to cure our national High Anxiety.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He served as the United States Attorney in Atlanta from 1986 to 1990 and was an official with the CIA in the 1970s. He now practices law in Atlanta, Georgia and serves as head of Liberty Guard.