Colonoscopies are proven to prevent colorectal cancer and save lives, but any added costs can be a deterrent from getting screened. Skipping recommended screenings could mean a patient receives a later-stage colorectal cancer diagnosis that can be more expensive to treat and harder to survive.
Currently, Medicare fully pays for routine colonoscopies for the purpose of screening. But if a polyp is found and removed during the procedure the patient must pay a share of the cost. This loophole, which applies only to seniors on Medicare, can leave a patient with a surprise bill that could be as much as $300 out of pocket. For seniors on fixed incomes, this amount can be unaffordable.
This loophole was a mistake, an oversight, and it’s time for Congress to take back the responsibility that has unintentionally fallen on our seniors and fix the issue.
That’s why I’m urging Sen. Rob Portman to cosponsor the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening Act in this Congress. This bill will make colorectal cancer screenings more accessible to more seniors, by covering it in the way it was intended to be covered. More seniors getting screened will result in fewer cases of cancer, reduced costs of treating the disease, and most importantly, fewer needless deaths from a disease that is easily detected and prevented.
Pam Niese, Ottawa
Volunteer, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network