ACR, others call on nation’s largest private insurers to update lung cancer screening policies

The American College of Radiology and other healthcare advocates are urging the nation’s top five private insurers to update their lung cancer screening coverage policies as soon as possible, the ACR said Thursday.

Just last month, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force changed its screening guidelines to qualify millions more for exams. Soon after, physician and patients groups called on the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to update its coverage policy to reflect the change.

And in an April 1 letter addressed to Aetna’s Medical Director Steven Blumenfrucht, MD, the same coalition urged top payers to do the same. The ACR, GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer and the Society of Thoracic Surgeons also called out Anthem, Cigna, Health Care Services Corporation, and UnitedHealthcare.

The trio wants LCS reimbursement policies to mirror the USPSTF grade B recommendations that lower the annual screening low-dose CT age to start at 50 and smoking pack-year eligibility from 30 pack-years to 20, according to the letter.

As stated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, insurers must cover all patient costs for preventative services graded as an A or B by the USPSTF. Payers are, however, given one year from the start of the next plan year to update their coverage when the task force changes its guidance.

But the advocates are requesting an immediate change to save as many lives as possible.

“Given the magnitude of lung cancer deaths across the United States population, and that lung cancer has the highest cancer death rate, this underscores the urgency to move expeditiously with a responsible and equitable plan for expanded coverage of screening for the at-risk populations,” the letter writers argued.

Read the entire letter here.