Access to no cost colorectal cancer screenings expands
Colorectal cancer is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death among men and women combined in the United States according to the American Cancer Society.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) -In January 2022, the Biden Administration issued guidance to private health insurance plans clarifying patient cost-sharing for preventive benefits under the Affordable Care Act, ACA. It includes the new United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPFTF) screening guidelines that recommended colorectal cancer screening begin at age 45. Additionally, starting May 31st, all insurance plans covered under the Affordable Care Act must provide no-cost coverage for a colonoscopy after a positive stool test.
The law waives coinsurance and deductible for many colorectal cancer screening tests, including colonoscopy, and fecal immunochemical tests.
Studies suggest that despite colorectal cancer being one of the few preventable cancers, it remains the second leading cause of cancer death in Texas. and the United States.
Physicians hope by increasing access to screenings and removing the cost barriers to those screenings the cancer death rate will decline.
The American Cancer Society says the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is: about 1 in 23 (4.3%) for men and 1 in 25 (4.0%) for women.
Doctors say early detection of cancer through screening is key and can improve survival and reduce mortality, meaning thousands of deaths can be avoided.
”Early detection is important because by the time they have signs or symptoms of colon cancer the disease may be advanced,” said Dr. Henry Pham, MD, Gastroenterologist with Central Texas Gastroenterology Consultants.
“Colon cancer if it’s caught early the five-year survival is 90 percent or greater,” said Pham.
Pham says the measures don’t apply to Medicare patients or grandfathered insurance plans not covered by the Affordable Care Act, but hopes they will soon.
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