Insurance Coverage Effect on Colorectal Cancer Screening

July 18, 2017

Rates of colorectal cancer screening via CT colonography are higher when patients have health insurance policies that cover the screening.

Patients are more likely to undergo CT colonography for colorectal cancer (CRC) screening if their insurance policies cover the testing, according to a study published in Radiology.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, performed a retrospective cohort study to compare overall CRC screening rates for patients who were eligible and due for CRC screening and who were with and without insurance coverage for CT colonography for CRC screening. “CT colonography is a newer technology that can detect both pre-cancer and cancer, but because it’s relatively new it isn’t widely covered by insurance and isn’t covered by Medicare,” lead author Maureen A. Smith, MD, PhD, MPH, said in a release.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"61761","attributes":{"alt":"Maureen A. Smith, MD, PhD, MPH","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_4296953263489","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"7814","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"float: right;","title":"Maureen A. Smith, MD, PhD, MPH","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

The researchers evaluated data from 33,177 patients, aged 64 or younger, who were eligible and due for CRC screening. The results showed that after adjustment, those patients whose insurance policies covered CT colonography who were due for CRC screening had a 48% higher likelihood of undergoing screening by any method, compared with those who did not have similar insurance coverage. In addition, the patients with CT colonography coverage had a greater likelihood of being screened with CT colonography and with colonoscopy, but not with fecal occult blood test than those without such insurance coverage.

“Our study suggests that when people are offered a greater choice of screening tests for colorectal cancer, including CT colonography, they are more likely to complete screening to prevent colorectal cancer,” Smith said in the release. “Policymakers should consider additional options for screening and prevention of colorectal cancer. CT colonography is potentially a powerful option, because there are people who will prefer it.”