This week, I answered a grab bag of reader questions about insurance coverage for colorectal cancer screening, hospital facility fees and the tax treatment of annual fees charged by concierge medical practices.
Q. A stool-based DNA test to screen for colon cancer is available that is readily paid for by health plans, including Medicare. But if I have a positive Cologuard test result, I’d have to pay several hundred dollars for a regular diagnostic colonoscopy. Doesn’t this discourage people from getting screened for colon cancer, which is the goal, after all?
A. Patient advocates point to several reasons people may be discouraged from getting tested for colorectal cancer, including the “ick” factor and the time it takes to prepare for and get a colonoscopy, the most common screening test. “But the number one factor is always cost,” said Caroline Powers, director of federal relations at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.
Commercial insurers and the Medicare program cover cancer screenings that are recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force without requiring any payment by patients. The task force, an independent panel of medical experts, recommends colorectal cancer screening for people from age 50 to 75.