Colonoscopy screening is an important preventive procedure that can detect colorectal cancer early, when treatment is most effective. But does Medicare provide coverage for colonoscopies? Here’s what you need to know about colonoscopy coverage under Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plans.
Colonoscopy Screening Overview
A colonoscopy is a procedure in which a long, flexible tube with a camera at the end is inserted into the rectum to view the entire colon and rectum. During a colonoscopy, the doctor can find and remove polyps before they become cancerous.
Colorectal cancer screening is recommended for all adults starting at age 45. Those with a family history of colorectal cancer or other risk factors may need to start screening earlier. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening for colorectal cancer using:
- Colonoscopy every 10 years
- Annual fecal occult blood test
- Sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, plus fecal occult blood testing every 3 years
- CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years
Of these tests, colonoscopy is considered the “gold standard” because it allows the doctor to examine the entire colon and remove any precancerous polyps during the procedure.
Does Medicare Cover Colonoscopy Screenings?
The good news is that Original Medicare provides coverage for colonoscopy screenings for colorectal cancer. Here are some key points about Medicare coverage for colonoscopies:
- Medicare Part B covers screening colonoscopies at 100% when used as a preventive screening procedure. This means there is no coinsurance, copayment, or deductible for the member.
- Screening colonoscopies are covered every 120 months (10 years) for average-risk individuals. Those at high risk may qualify for more frequent screening, such as every 24 months.
- If a polyp or other tissue is found and removed during the colonoscopy, Medicare may cover this as a diagnostic procedure rather than a screening. In this case, the Part B deductible and coinsurance would apply.
- Medicare will cover a screening colonoscopy once every 24 months if you’re at high risk for colorectal cancer. This includes people with a family history of colorectal cancer or a prior history of cancerous or precancerous polyps.
- A colonoscopy is covered starting at age 50 by Medicare. If you’re at high risk, Medicare may cover screening colonoscopies starting at age 45.
- Medicare requires that your doctor accept assignment for colonoscopy screening in order for the procedure to be covered. This means they must accept Medicare’s approved amount as full payment.
- Medicare will cover certain bowel prep medicines with a prescription under Part B or Part D. This helps prepare the colon for the procedure.
So in summary, Original Medicare provides full coverage for preventive colonoscopy screenings for people age 50-75 at average risk every 10 years. More frequent screening is covered for those at high risk.
Colonoscopy Coverage with Medicare Advantage
Medicare Advantage Plans are required to cover the same screening colonoscopy benefits as Original Medicare. Here are some key points about colonoscopy coverage under Medicare Advantage:
- Most Medicare Advantage Plans offer coverage for preventive colonoscopy screenings with $0 copay, just like Original Medicare.
- Coverage is provided for high-risk individuals to receive screening colonoscopies every 24 months in Medicare Advantage.
- Many Medicare Advantage Plans also cover additional preventive services beyond what’s covered under Original Medicare. For example, certain plans may provide coverage for a screening colonoscopy starting at age 45 for average-risk individuals.
- Some Medicare Advantage Plans require prior authorization for a preventive colonoscopy screening.
- Medicare Advantage Plans can require you to use in-network providers in order for the screening colonoscopy to be covered.
- Costs may differ if the screening becomes diagnostic during the procedure. Copays, coinsurance, or deductibles could apply.
- Check your specific Medicare Advantage Plan’s Evidence of Coverage to understand the colonoscopy screening benefits.
So in summary, Medicare Advantage Plans are required to cover preventive colonoscopy screenings just like Original Medicare does. But benefits can vary, so check your plan’s coverage details.
Colonoscopy Coverage with Medicare Supplement Plans
Original Medicare covers preventive colonoscopy screenings, but leaves recipients responsible for out-of-pocket costs like the Part B deductible and 20% coinsurance. Medicare Supplement Plans can help fill these coverage gaps:
- Medicare Supplement Plan A or Plan B provide coverage for Medicare’s coinsurance amount for a preventive screening colonoscopy.
- Medicare Supplement Plan C, Plan D, Plan F, and Plan G cover both the Part B deductible and coinsurance amounts for a preventive colonoscopy screening when Original Medicare is billed as the primary payer.
- However, the Medicare Supplement Plan would not cover any copay or other costs if a polyp removal or biopsy done during the screening colonoscopy causes the procedure to be billed as diagnostic rather than preventive.
- Always check with your specific Medicare Supplement insurance provider to confirm details about colonoscopy coverage. Policies can vary.
So in summary, having a Medicare Supplement Plan can help pay for the out-of-pocket costs associated with a preventive colonoscopy screening under Original Medicare.
Colonoscopy Costs and Coverage for Diagnostic Colonoscopies
While preventive colonoscopy screenings are covered by Medicare at 100%, what happens if a polyp is removed or the procedure ends up being billed as diagnostic? Here are some key points:
- If a polyp removal or biopsy is performed, Medicare will cover the colonoscopy but as a diagnostic procedure rather than a screening.
- For diagnostic colonoscopies, the Medicare Part B deductible and 20% coinsurance would apply. This means you may have to pay several hundred dollars or more out-of-pocket.
- Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage Plans can help cover your share of the costs for a diagnostic colonoscopy. Always check your plan details.
- Without supplemental insurance, your out-of-pocket costs for a diagnostic colonoscopy can total $300-$800 or more.
- The overall cost of a colonoscopy can range from $600 to $3000 or more, depending on the provider and geographic location. Polyps or biopsy can add additional fees.
So in summary, while preventive colonoscopy screenings are fully covered, you may end up having out-of-pocket costs if Medicare covers your procedure as diagnostic rather than preventive screening. Supplemental insurance can help cover the costs.
Should I Get a Colonoscopy Screening?
Overall, colonoscopy screening is an essential preventive service that can detect colorectal cancer early when it’s highly treatable. Thankfully, Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plans provide coverage for recommended colonoscopy screening for colorectal cancer.
Diagnostic colonoscopies or those involving polyp removal come with out-of-pocket costs, but Medicare Supplement Plans can help fill the coverage gaps. Talk to your doctor and review your Medicare benefits to determine if colonoscopy screening is appropriate for your health status and colorectal cancer risk factors. Detecting cancer early with colonoscopies saves lives.
We’re Here to Help
You do not have to spend hours reading articles on the internet to get answers to your Medicare questions. Give the licensed insurance agents at Think65 a Call at (719) 301-1220. You will get the answers you seek in a matter of minutes, with no pressure and no sales pitch. We are truly here to help.
What is colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the colon or rectum. It is the third most common cancer in both men and women.
What is a colorectal cancer screening?
A colorectal cancer screening is a test that helps detect cancer or precancerous growths in the colon or rectum before any symptoms appear. It is recommended for people over the age of 50.
Does Medicare cover colonoscopy screenings?
Yes, Medicare provides coverage for colonoscopy screenings. It is an essential part of preventive care to detect colon cancer early.
What is the cost of a colonoscopy with Medicare?
For a screening colonoscopy, Medicare covers the entire cost of the procedure if it is done by an in-network provider who accepts Medicare assignment. However, if any polyps or other abnormalities are found during the procedure and removed, it may be considered a diagnostic colonoscopy, which may have out-of-pocket costs.
How often does Medicare cover a colonoscopy?
Medicare covers a screening colonoscopy once every 10 years for most beneficiaries. However, if you are considered at high risk for developing colorectal cancer, Medicare may cover a screening colonoscopy every two years.
Do Medicare Advantage Plans cover colonoscopies?
Yes, Medicare Advantage Plans are required to cover the same services as Original Medicare, including colonoscopies. However, specific coverage details may vary depending on the plan, so it is always recommended to check with your insurance provider.
Do I have to pay anything for a screening colonoscopy with Medicare?
If your screening colonoscopy is considered preventive and no abnormalities are found, you will generally pay nothing for the procedure. However, if a diagnostic colonoscopy is performed or if any abnormalities are found and removed during the procedure, you may be responsible for paying your Medicare Part B deductible and a 20% coinsurance.
What are some other colon cancer screening options covered by Medicare?
In addition to colonoscopy, Medicare also covers other recommended colorectal cancer screening tests, such as flexible sigmoidoscopy, every four years.
Does Medicare cover the prep kit for a colonoscopy?
Medicare generally covers the prep kit used for a colonoscopy, which includes the medications and solutions needed to prepare the bowel for the procedure.
Should I discuss the need for a screening colonoscopy with my healthcare provider?
Yes, it is important to discuss your risk factors and the need for a screening colonoscopy with your healthcare provider. They can evaluate your individual situation and advise you on the appropriate screening test to detect colon cancer.