Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Task Force Recommends Insurers Cover Regular Lung Screenings For Smokers

Posted By on Tue, Jul 30, 2013 at 9:29 AM

Federal health advisers are clearing the way for a new rule that would require insurers to cover annual scans for lung cancer among the nation's most vulnerable population for lung ailments: smokers.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is leaning toward a proposal that would have insurers cover CT scans for people ages 55-79 who have smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years, or the equivalent, such as two packs for 15 years.

"The evidence shows we can prevent a substantial number of lung cancer deaths by screening," said Dr. Michael LeFevre, a task force leader.

The American Cancer Society says nearly 90 percent of people who get lung cancer die from it, primarily because it's found too late for treatment. Nearly 85 percent of lung cancer in the U.S. are attributable to smoke and about 37 percent of U.S. adults are current or former smokers.

The task force estimates that 10 million Americans would meet the criteria for regular screenings for lung cancer.

The scans cost $100-$400 and are not usually covered by Medicare or private insurers. But under the proposed rule, cancer screenings recommended by the task force would be covered with no copay.

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