New Legislation Makes Colonoscopies Affordable for all Americans

Even though colon cancer is preventable when discovered early through screenings, many Americans are not getting screened because they cannot afford it.  Last year, 55 percent of Americans were up-to-date on their recommended colon cancer screenings. This year, that number increased to 65 percent. While these are encouraging statistics, this means that 35 percent of Americans are not getting screened for colon cancer. Neglecting colon screenings means missed diagnoses and missed opportunities for early intervention and treatment.

The U.S. Senate introduced critical legislation on May 15, which would ensure that cost would no longer be a barrier for Medicare patients who are trying to get a colon cancer screening. This is a companion bill to House legislation, the “Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act” and is sponsored by U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio. The bill would eliminate cost sharing for Medicare beneficiaries who are receiving a colonoscopy, even if a polyp is removed during the procedure.

Last year, the administration clarified that individuals with private insurance should not have to pay when a polyp is removed during a colonoscopy. This new bill would give the same benefit to Medicare beneficiaries.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network has joined with more than 50 other public health organizations to commit to increasing colorectal screening rate to 80 percent by 2018. By making colonoscopies and colon cancer screenings available to every individual, Congress will help increase colon screening rates and decrease cases of colorectal cancer. By removing the financial barrier to screening, the goal of 80 percent by 2018 should be attainable! (Source: Insurance News).


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