National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is here. Getting screened for colorectal cancer can save your life. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), preventative screenings recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force are now fully covered by new insurance plans, removing cost-sharing like co-pays.
For adults over age 50, that means that preventative screenings including those used to detect colorectal cancer, are covered under all new plans.
The ACA has made colorectal cancer screening easier, more affordable, and more accessible, eliminating many excuses to get screened. For those of you who have been putting it off, don’t wait any longer. After lung cancer, colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of death from cancer in men and women in the United States combined. Regular screening can catch colorectal cancer early, when it is much easier, and less expensive, to treat. Precancerous polyps and colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms, so testing early and regularly is important.
While the ACA has helped immensely in providing services to fight against colorectal cancer, there are still issues that need to be addressed. For example, there are some plans that will cover colonoscopies as preventative procedures, but require co-pays or other payment when the procedure becomes therapeutic. To some of the families we serve, that cost could be a big hit and a barrier to getting preventative testing or screening.
There are still miles to go to beat colorectal cancer, but we are getting closer every day. Please take the steps needed to protect you and your loved ones, starting with preventative screenings today. For further information go to http://www.cdc.gov/features/colorectalawareness
George L. Askew, M.D., serves as the first chief medical officer for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In this role he provides expert advice and consultation to the assistant secretary for children and families on the development of plans, programs, policies, and initiatives that address the health needs and strengths of vulnerable children and families.