News Perspectives

Medicare to Cover Lung Cancer Screening

Older longtime smokers and ex-smokers on Medicare soon may be able to get screening tests for lung cancer. These tests can find cancers early enough that they may be curable. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced the policy change November 10. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended the screening for certain smokers last year. As a result, private insurers will be required to cover screening beginning in 2015. But Medicare officials waited so they could review the evidence and potential costs. The proposed policy will cover a low-dose chest CT scan each year for certain high-risk smokers and ex-smokers. They must be age 55 to 74 and have a smoking history of at least 30 pack-years. The number of pack-years is equal to packs per day multiplied by years of smoking. Ex-smokers can get screened if they quit within the last 15 years.

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