Medicare to pay for lung cancer screenings for smokers

For the first time ever, Medicare will now cover lung cancer screenings for certain patients, CMS announced Thursday.

Effective immediately, Medicare will cover screening for lung cancer with low dose computed tomography once a year for beneficiaries who meet the following criteria:

  • Between 55 and 77 years old and are current smokers or quit smoking in the last 15 years
  • A tobacco smoking history averaging one pack a day for 30 years
  • A written order from a physician or qualified non-physician practitioner that meets certain requirements

"This is an important new Medicare preventive benefit since lung cancer is the third most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States," said Patrick Conway, MD, CMO and deputy administrator for innovation and quality for CMS.

See the final decision memo from CMS here.

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