Medicare will now cover lung cancer screenings


You mean they weren’t already? Seriously? Isn’t preventing disease a lot cheaper and more efficient than treating it?

Anyway, Medicare today announced that it will begin covering lung cancer screening tests. Catching lung cancer early — <i>very</i> early — has long been known as the best way to combat it.

Medicare will pay for annual lung cancer screenings for people aged 55-77 who are current smokers or quit within the past 15 years (Me, the flaming Socialist, says free lung cancer screenings for everyone over 55, since 15 percent of the people who get lung cancer never once smoked a cigarette.)

From the NBC article:

“It will save tens of thousands of lives,” says Laurie Fenton Ambrose, president and CEO of the Lung Cancer Alliance.

“We think it’s a transformative moment for our community.”

The screenings cost $250 to $300 per person and would likely save 20 percent of the people who get lung cancer. Before you think that’s a trivial amount, remember 158,000 people a year get lung cancer in the U.S. — that translates into 31,500 lives a year saved. That’s a city the size of Monterey, Calif., saved each year.

These screenings will cost Medicare $9 billion a year, or $3 a month per each Medicare beneficiary.

The article acknowledges that nonsmokers are left out of the Medicare coverage, but that efforts are ongoing to cover everyone with occupational or genetic risks.