The price of a lung cancer screening varies by location and institution, so estimating how much a lung cancer screening will cost you may prove difficult. In a 2018 article by AP News, the costs of a lung cancer screening were $100 or $250, although this is an estimate and costs can fluctuate.
Costs can vary based on provider and on different factors. While insurance and Medicare cover the cost of lung cancer screening for patients who meet certain criteria, others who wish to take proactive steps in preventing the disease may have to pay a large sum to have the screening done.
Recent Developments in Lung Cancer Screening
Until recently, doctors did not have efficient methods to screen for the early detection of lung cancer. Because symptoms of lung cancer often do not appear until later stages and have similarities to other, more minor conditions, patients often do not receive a diagnosis until the cancer has already spread. One particular advancement has given doctors the opportunity to screen their patients for the disease earlier and provide treatment options that may have a more promising outlook.
Low-dose computed tomography (LDCT)—also known as a low-dose spiral CT scan—not only detects the potential presence of lung cancer often before symptoms appear, but it uses a fraction of the radiation of some traditional testing methods. A study published in the Annals of Translational Medicine found that people who used LDCT had a 20% lower chance of dying from lung cancer than those who had chest X-rays.
Patients Who Qualify for Lung Cancer Screening Coverage
According to the American Cancer Society, doctors recommend LDCT for patients who have a high risk for developing lung cancer. This includes individuals who meet each of the following criteria:
- Are 55 to 74 years of age
- Are in good health
- Have a history of heavy smoking
- Currently smoke or quit smoking within the past 15 years
Doctors suggest that patients continue to receive a lung cancer screening each year as part of their preventive healthcare plan until they turn 81 years of age, have not smoked for over 15 years, or develop a condition that could make the risks of the scan and potential subsequent testing greater than the benefits.
Other Risk Factors
While the medical community focuses its lung cancer screening efforts primarily on those who smoke or used to smoke, you may have increased odds for lung cancer due to other factors such as:
- Exposure to dangerous substances, such as asbestos and radon
- History of lung cancer or other chronic lung conditions
- Family history of lung cancer or other chronic lung conditions
- Previous radiation treatments for cancer
Insurance and Medicare Do Not Cover All Patients
Medicare, Medicaid, and most insurance plans can cover the cost of lung cancer screening if you meet the standard criteria regarding high-risk status. However, even if your doctor recommends a lung cancer screening based on other factors, you may have to pay for the test yourself.
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Costs of Additional Testing
Even if your insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid covers your lung cancer screening, it may not pay for additional testing associated with your results. LDCT scans may reveal the presence of something that looks like cancer, but turns out to be benign. These “false positives” indicate the need for more testing to either confirm or rule out a cancer diagnosis, and insurance may not cover these procedures. This can make it difficult to determine how much your lung cancer screening will cost in total.
Some Communities Are at Greater Risk
The additional factors that affect an individual’s risk of developing lung cancer—particularly exposure to dangerous chemicals—affect poor communities at a higher rate. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with a lower income and lower education do not have the same level of protection against the dangers of secondhand smoke as those of a higher socioeconomic status. Environment, access to care and information, and genetic factors can all impact someone’s susceptibility to lung cancers.
Lung cancer risk can be greater in the workplace as well. Designed to prevent exposure to carcinogens in the workplace and public places, smoke-free laws do not apply to the hospitality industry—including bars, restaurants, and casinos—in many states. This puts millions of employees at greater risk due to their regular exposure to secondhand smoke.
How an Attorney Can Help You Seek Compensation
LDCT primarily benefits smokers or former smokers whose insurance or Medicare often covers the cost of their screening. However, individuals who have additional risk factors—including those that may have resulted from the negligence of another person or organization—typically have to pay the costs of a lung cancer screening out of pocket.
Without early detection measures, patients often do not receive a lung cancer diagnosis until their disease has reached a later stage. If you experienced regular exposure to dangerous substances in the workplace or your place of residence and developed lung cancer as a result, the attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help you seek compensation. Contact our legal team today at (800) 217-6099 to discuss your case.