Insurance giant Aetna expands coverage for annual low-dose CT lung cancer screening: ‘Lifesaving’

Commercial insurer Aetna has agreed to expand coverage for annual low-dose CT lung cancer screening exams at the urging of radiologists and other physicians.

This change comes after the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently updated its guidance for monitoring the disease, dropping the starting age from 55 to 50. The American College of Radiology and Society of Thoracic Surgeons pushed major payers to adopt these recommendations, and the Hartford, Connecticut-based company has responded.

“The ACR applauds Aetna for taking swift action to offer this lifesaving screening exam to an expanded group of high-risk individuals,” the college said in a news update shared Wednesday, May 26.

Aetna will cover annual CT screening for current smokers ages 50-80 with a 20 pack-year or more smoking history, along with those who have quit in the last 15 years. The new policy replaces previous guidelines that started at age 55, with a 30 pack-year or more history, ACR said. The decision is retrospective to March, when the USPSTF issued its updated guidance. Aetna, a CVS Health Company, currently covers more than 22 million Americans through its medical plans, according to its website.

Meanwhile, ACR and the thoracic surgery group have also asked Anthem, Cigna, Health Care Services Corporation, and UnitedHealthcare to do the same. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is currently contemplating whether to update its own coverage guidelines for seniors to match new task force guidelines.

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