The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) announced on Monday, Nov. 10, that it will cover lung cancer screening costs for those who are eligible. Coverage for lung cancer screening begins in early 2015.
We spoke with University of Minnesota Health Pulmonologist and Critical Care Physician Abbie Begnaud, MD, a lung cancer specialist, to get the scoop on the new coverage standards and lung cancer screening procedures at University of Minnesota Medical Center.
While we look forward to helping more people, University of Minnesota Health Cancer Care recognized the importance of screening well before it was endorsed by CMS and we will continue to be a leader in lung cancer screening. Our screening program started in 2013 and is still the only one in the state of Minnesota designated a Center of Excellence by the Lung Cancer Alliance.
Medicare will also require high standards of the imaging centers performing the test and the radiologists interpreting the exam. The University of Minnesota Health lung cancer screening program meets these high standards.
The patient will check in and answer a few questions about their risk for lung cancer, including smoking history, medical history, family history and other environmental exposures. The exam itself is very fast—a matter of seconds—and requires a person to lay flat on a moving table while briefly holding their breath. Even people who tend to get claustrophobic tend to have no problem with this test because it goes quickly and doesn’t require a person to be completely enclosed in the scanner.
Once the exam is complete, patients can expect to receive results within one week. The doctor who ordered the patient’s test will also get the results. If we find something worrying, a member of our care team will call the patient immediately, in addition to sending results through the mail.
*We believe screening is beneficial for those older than 74 years of age. Some private insurers may provide coverage for these screenings, or the procedure can be paid for out of pocket.