Sometimes the scariest part of a colonoscopy isn’t the colonoscopy itself; it’s the bill. Even with screening colonoscopies now fully covered by Medicare under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), many patients have still found themselves on the hook for hundreds or even thousands of dollars due to anesthesia fees. But thanks to Medicare payment revisions effective this year, that has changed.
In the Calendar Year 2015 Physician Fee Schedule final rule, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services revised the definition of colorectal cancer screening tests to include anesthesia services. As a result, Medicare beneficiaries will no longer be responsible for coinsurance or deductibles related to anesthesia services provided during a screening colonoscopy (Source: CMS.gov).
These recent changes serve to break down significant barriers that stand between at-risk individuals and routine screening colonoscopies. Patients who have fear or anxiety about going in for a colonoscopy can take comfort in knowing that they will be asleep throughout the entire procedure, and individuals concerned about cost can rest assured that their expenses will be covered.
Colon cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States, but with routine screening and early detection, it is 90 percent preventable. Baseline screening colonoscopies should begin at age 50 for adults of average risk; African Americans should begin screening at age 45. Individuals with a personal or family history of colon cancer or polyps should be screened earlier and possibly more frequently.
If you have questions or concerns about the costs associated with your screening colonoscopy, call your insurance provider for more detailed information. Medicare beneficiaries can also find more information at Medicare.gov.