Forget Angelina Jolie: How Obamacare Endangers Your Breasts

Even as male moviegoers are slow to let go of Angelina Jolie’s amazing technicolor dream breasts, women are asking themselves: What about my boobies?

Are they fetching objects of desire or ticking time bombs?

Along with a spectacular jawline and an immune system strong enough to survive a four-year marriage to Billy Bob Thornton, Angelina also inherited the deadly BRCA1 gene, which jacked up her odds of breast cancer so high that she took pre-emptive action and had a prophylactic double mastectomy. If only she’d shown the same foresight before filming The Tourist.

Angelina learned about her risks because of the sort of medical innovation in which the U.S. has long been the clear leader. She benefited from a genetic test that is at the center of a Supreme Court case challenging test-maker Myriad Technologies’ right to enforce genetic patents.

The ACLU and others have sued the biotech giant, saying that you can’t patent products of nature, or even seemingly unnatural products like Angelina’s perfect lips.

However the case plays out, here’s something to think about: Over the past few decades, America has lead the world in the number of new drugs being developed– and I'm not just talking about purple kush.

We’ve also led the way in developing a host on new technologies, too – like MRIs, CT scans, and genomic sequencing.

We haven’t been number one because American researchers are smarter. However messed up America’s health care system might be, it’s still more driven by free markets than virtually any other place. That’s where innovation and change – and the next big lifesaving breakthroughs -- come from. With the right incentives, even Jenny McCarthy could come up with a lifesaving vaccine.

Angelina’s test cost north of $3,000, well out of the price range of most women in America. But just like VCRs, cellphones, and Lindsay Lohan’s dignity, things that start out expensive and rare quickly become cheap and ubiquitous.

It’s not clear how the Supreme Court will rule in the Myriad Technologies case, but this much is more certain than the fact there’s not going to be a sequel to Salt: As Obamacare kicks in, groundbreaking genetic tests and preventative surgeries will remain elusive perks of the privileged, as innovation and patient choice are always the first things to go when bureaucracy and the state take over health care.

For Reason.tv, I'm Kennedy.

Written by Nick Gillespie and Kennedy and produced by Joshua Swain. Music by Kevin MacLeod.

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  • sarcasmic||

    One of my wife's sisters has that gene and got breast cancer. Thankfully she survived. So my wife went and got the test, and thankfully it came back negative. Her boobies, such as they are, remain real.

  • EugeneHONEY||

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  • Goldwyn Smith||

    Jolie has money so Obamacare won't trouble her.

  • ||

    Wait until this test becomes mandatory and then, if you have the gene, a mastectomy is also mandatory.

  • HellsBells||

    That would be expensive. It's more likely they will raise the age to receive mammograms. That way more women will catch any cancerous tumors when they're in a later stage. They save on mammogram costs and save in treatment costs since the women affected will be less likely to survive.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    Mastectomy used to be the standard treatment since it's effective and cheap. It's lumpectomies and ablation therapies that are comparatively expensive.

    Mastectomies with reconstruction aren't actually that bad. You can end up with good cosmesis, often better than with lumpectomies, just because re-excising lumpectomies with positive margins can end up wrecking the breast more than carving it out and loading up the silicone from the get-go. You can bet that Angwlina Jolie's going to get a top-grade reconstruction. Honestly, I'm surprised she hasn't already. Living with BRCA is fucking terrifying.

    Ideally, all women should get genetic screening ($95 for 23andMe compared with $20,000 for Myriad, identical results) which would let us do the far more effective MRI screenings on women with genetic risk factors. I'm not an actuary, but that sure looks cheaper than treating late stage cancers.

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  • John Galt||

    Our bodies belong to the state, now. Whether or not our illnesses will be treated is strictly a matter of cost effectiveness. It's nothing personal.

    And if any of us doesn't like what it is, well, that's our faults for not being politically connected. Certainly, medically, the well connected will benefit handsomely, just as they do in any other area in which the government is involved.

  • josh||

    obamacare cost us jolie's breasts. who cares if it's true, we can all get behind it.

  • John Galt||

    The US won't be the world leader developing cutting edge medical technology now that we're allowing ourselves to be flushed down the socialized medicine toilet.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    My former company was a breast cancer imaging company. They're closing down US operations and moving to Asia since we haven't sold anything in the US since March 2010. Wonder what happened around then.

  • John Galt||

    For some reason much of my family has always been involved in medicine. I have both a brother, a sister, an aunt and two uncles who are doctors. Two are taking early retirements, one is changing profession and the others are uncertain what choices they'll be making.

    Gee, wonder what happened around 2010 to cause such decision making.

  • Bill||

    The 2010 eruption(s) of Eyjafjallajökull?

  • TobyButler||

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  • jili5||

    I'm tired of people making jokes at Jenny McCarthy without reading anything into vaccines and the junk "vaccine science" out there. Ripping on Jenny McCarthy is like criticizing people against tobacco because they don't believe the "tobacco science" that "proves" smoking doesn't cause cancer and is actually good for you. For a libertarian paper I'd think Reason and it's writers would at least be familiar with vaccine manufacturers having legal immunity granted by the government. (try to sue one, you can't, you have to file a claim against the justice department through the VICP in vaccine court where there is no jury or due process) If that's not big government then I don't know what is.

  • ||

    I'm not. She's an idiot who is trying to get parents to avoid vaccines for their children. James Randi gave her his Pigasus award for this. Thanks to people like her, measles and whooping cough are on the rise. So, being the butt of a few jokes is the least she deserves.

    And I don't see how the way vaccine cases are litigated absolves her. The reason for the special vaccine courts are because juries were giving large, unjustified awards to plaintiffs at the expense of vaccine manufacturers. The manufacturers were leaving the business - a result that would have cost us all greatly. This was a problem caused by irrational people like Jenny McCarthy, so again, I don't see how this absolves her of her sins.

  • jili5||

    You like the author should do some reading. Measles and whooping cough are on not on the rise for one because they're at the same levels they have been for the past 20 years, the media however sensationalizes these stories and their number one advertiser uses these scare stories to sell even more vaccines. The second point is that these whooping cough breakouts are occurring in 100% vaccinated populations.

    So what you're saying is those injured by vaccines don't deserve a fair trial because you believe the vaccine manufacturers PR department claim that "they shouldn't have to pay high claims for injuries they claim didn't occur"?? How nice. I personally don't believe in your Soviet style idea of "justice". I think everyone deserves a fair trial and due process. Why one industry gets this fascist protection and you, (someone reading Reason that should be a libertarian) would think this industry can hurt and kill whoever they want with no consequence is beyond me. You need to take a serious look at the principles you believe in and see if you'd like those applied to you. If you were poisoned or beaten to death by a fraudulent corporation do you think you should have no right to protect yourself in the court of law?

  • ZR||

    Vaccines are perfectly safe and effective. Jenny McCarthy has killed probably a good dozen or so kids herself by turning people away from this safe and effective means of disease prevention. Your point to "100%" vaccinated populations does not exist since some people can not take vaccines and many scientific studies show that once levels fall below heard immunity that many are at risk beacuse vaccines are not 100% effective. They are however safe. Prove me wrong with a non-bias peer-reviewed study and we will talk.

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