Private Insurance Required to Cover Low-dose CT Screening!

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) final guidelines for CT lung cancer screening have recently been released.  Just before the New Year, the USPSTF officially signed off on those recommendations for heavy smokers to undergo screening for lung cancer using low-dose CT. Since the statement was signed into effect prior to January 1, 2014, all private insurance payors must cover the expense of the screening by January 2015!

What does this mean? The task force issued a “B” recommendation for lung cancer CT screening. Under the Affordable Care Act, all preventative services grades “B” or higher must be covered by insurers. Therefore, all private insurance payors must cover the screening by January 2015 because of the recommendation by the USPSTF. As of February 2014, Medicare is reviewing whether to pay for low-dose CT lung cancer screening and the result should be known by the end of year.

As a reminder, the USPSTF recommends screening for individuals aged 55 to 80 who have smoked a pack or more per day for at least 30 years. Individuals who fit these criteria, but have quit smoking within the last 15 years are also recommended for lung cancer screening. According to the USPSTF, as many as 10 million Americans qualify for CT scans under these guidelines!

At UCSF, we are proponents of lung cancer screening for heavy smokers because lung cancer found in its earliest stage is approximately 80 percent curable. Watch this video to learn about the UCSF Lung Cancer Screening Program and see why the American College of Chest Physicians recommends screening at a medical center like UCSF.

For more information on low-dose CT lung cancer screening, please see our collection of blogs here. To contact the Lung Cancer Screening Program, follow this link.