Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in South Carolina. Because a colonoscopy can detect and remove polyps before they turn into cancer, screening not only saves lives; it can prevent cancer in the first place. Private insurers are required to fully cover the cost of a screening colonoscopy for people age 50-75.
Sadly, this same protection is not afforded to those on Medicare. Medicare patients who have a screening colonoscopy and a polyp removed may be forced to pay hundreds of dollars out-of-pocket because of a quirk in the law. Medicare patients have to pay 20 percent co-insurance for diagnostic procedures, and when a polyp is removed during screening, it gets coded as a diagnostic exam rather than a prevention exam.
Two bills in Congress, H.R.1017 and S.479, would remove these barriers for Medicare patients. I urge you to contact your congressional representatives to make your voice heard.
Is it fair for our elderly, many on fixed incomes, to pay more for a colonoscopy than citizens with private insurance? I think not.
Jan Marie Eberth