Wellpoint Says Anesthesia Unnecessary in Colonoscopies

We’re posting this not simply because it involves the wistful dream of the CEO of a major medical insurance company taking it up the can, but also for the remarkably vivid lead-in: “Mr. Insurance Company CEO … when you get your colonoscopy, are YOU going to go without the sedative?”

Allen Wastler over at CNN Money writes:

Colon cancer is the second most common type of cancer in men. About 145,000 Americans are diagnosed with it in a single year and more than 56,000 of them die, according to the American Cancer Society.

A colonoscopy can catch the cancer early. And we’ve all been told that early detection can mean the difference between you beating cancer and cancer beating you.

But like a veritable Greek tragedy, there is a price for this test that lets you get a jump on death: It involves pain and humiliation. After all, they’re poking a camera where it generally remains unpoked. Sure, it’s a small camera on the end of a flexible tube, but still…

Now, the medical folks have been using sedatives and such to take the sting out of the procedure. And the drug of choice is becoming Propofol, from the fine folks at AstraZeneca…

But Propofol is enough of a heavyweight drug that it requires an anesthesiologist to be present. And that costs. Hence, insurance company objections. Why should they have to pay extra just because you don’t like the feel of that “small” camera?

Gee, swell.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Kat2 says:

    Honestly. I had a lower GI exam (same thing – camera) when I was 11 years old. I was completely awake with no drugs at all. It wasn’t a big deal!

  2. Kevin Cotter says:

    I had one last years sans sedatives or painkillers. I had a nuclear fart about 20 minutes later though!


  3. milk says:

    @Kevin Cotter: awesome.

  4. joedecker says:

    *shakes head*

    Around these parts, one of the drugs of choice for colonoscopies is Versed, which is for a lot of folks a concern. The primary concern with Versed is that many (most?) patients given it do not retain memories of the procedure.

    Now, I had a colonoscopy a few years back, blogged it, had Versed, was informed of the potential side effects, had the amnesia, and have no objection to that. But I’ve had friends and lovers go without the Versed and they’ve found the procedure “not at all that bad.” I’m tempted, next time, to skip the Versed myself.

    Versed has also been controversial because many folks (see [colonoscopyblog.blogspot.com] , for example) are given Versed without any warning about the amnesia.

  5. Wimpkins says:


    Wow !

    I think you should run right out and get an MBA, I think you’d do great over at Wellpoint.

    In fact, I nominate you to call their customers and let them know just how painless and fun the whole process is.

  6. Wimpkins says:

    @Kevin Cotter:

    Awesome, thanks for the link-spam.