Final colorectal cancer screening recommendations from the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) assigned an “A” grade to colorectal cancer (CRC) screening in those ages 50-75 years and provided a list of recognized screening exams. The Affordable Care Act now would require private insurers that take part in insurance exchanges to fully cover, with no co-pay, all of the CRC screening exams recognized by the USPSTF, including CT colonography (CTC, or virtual colonoscopy). Medicare should now recognize this overall “A” grade and provide full coverage for CTC.
An “A” grade means that the USPSTF recommends this service and that there is “high certainty that the net benefit is substantial.”
“As the USPSTF agreed, the best test is one that patients will actually use,” said William T. Thorwarth, MD, FACR, chief executive officer of the American College of Radiology. “One-third of those who should be screened for colorectal cancer still choose not to be tested. Patients need more fully-covered screening options if we are going to reduce colorectal cancer deaths.”
Virtual colonoscopy is recommended by the American Cancer Society and has been shown to increase screening rates. Virtual colonoscopy has been proven comparably accurate to colonoscopy in most people of screening age, including those ages 65 and older.
CIGNA, UnitedHealthcare, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, and many other insurers cover screening virtual colonoscopy. More than 20 states already require insurers to cover these exams. The USPSTF recommendations, under the Affordable Care Act, would require all private insurers who take part in insurance exchanges to cover beneficiaries for CTC and the other USPSTF-recognized tests.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men and women. (The screening recommendations can be accessed at http://bit.ly/1twvalT.)