Medicare’s Puzzling Refusal to Cover Lung-Cancer Screening

June 17, 2014 11:11 PM

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That’s the question Medicare officials are now considering—whether to approve lung-cancer screening for Medicare beneficiaries, which we estimate could save 14,000 lives each year in that group alone. Most patients are discovered with lung cancer at a stage already too late for a cure, and cancer screening for early detection has been recommended for other common cancers for decades. The procedure has turned thousands of people into survivors rather than victims.

It is not clear why Medicare does not cover lung-cancer screening like it does for breast, colon and prostate cancer—all far less lethal. But the issue is especially acute since nearly 70% of lung cancer occurs in the Medicare population.

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