As the calendar year closes, assessing whether you have utilized your healthcare benefits to the maximum is wise. If you have met your deductible, now is an excellent time to schedule a GI procedure or screening colonoscopy before the year ends.
Colonoscopy Is a Lifesaving Procedure
Getting screened for colon cancer may not be at the top of your to-do list, but it deserves to be a priority. Colonoscopy can detect and prevent colon cancer because your doctor can remove polyps before they become cancerous. In fact, the five-year survival rate is 90 percent when colonoscopy detects colon cancer early.
Some patients feel anxiety about a colonoscopy because it involves a bowel prep, sedation and the need to take time off work. While preparation is necessary to ensure that the colon is empty, colonoscopy is a simple, painless procedure. A gastroenterologist examines the lining of the colon for pre-cancerous polyps while you are sedated for approximately 30 minutes. If polyps are found during the procedure, they can be removed and sent to a laboratory for analysis.
Other methods of colon cancer screenings like flexible sigmoidoscopy, double contrast barium enema or stool tests do not offer the same benefits. A positive result means you would have to get a follow-up colonoscopy. Therefore, it’s best to go with a colonoscopy — the gold standard for colon cancer screening.
Schedule Your Colonoscopy at an ASC
Everyone wants to maximize their healthcare dollars. Most health insurance deductibles reset in January, so scheduling procedures and screenings are advantageous after you have met your deductible.
Most insurance plans cover a screening colonoscopy, but there may be additional fees for anesthesia and the facility where the test is performed. You can usually save money by scheduling your procedure at an ambulatory surgery center (ASC) because there are fewer overhead costs. In addition, ASCs usually offer convenient parking and a more comfortable setting.
If you are primarily concerned about cost, there is good news. The Affordable Care Act requires most private insurers to cover the costs of colorectal cancer (CRC) screening tests. As of May 31, 2022, one crucial guideline change is that most patients will not pay out-of-pocket costs for a follow-up colonoscopy after a positive stool test. Plans vary, so it is essential to contact your provider to determine your coverage.
Know Your Risk for Colon Cancer
It is important to be familiar with your risk for colon cancer. Most cases of colon cancer are not hereditary. In fact, heredity only accounts for about 5 to 10 percent of colon cancer cases. Most adults are at average risk for colon cancer, but you are considered to be at increased risk if you have any of the following:
- A family history of rectal or colon cancer or precancerous polyps
- Previous colon cancer or colon polyps
- Inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- Lynch syndrome
- Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
New Colon Cancer Screening Guidelines
Young-onset colon cancer is becoming more prevalent every year. Because the average age of colon cancer onset is decreasing, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force advises that adults at average risk for colon cancer should begin screening at age 45. However, if you have a family history of colon cancer, precancerous polyps or certain genetic cancer syndromes, you may need to begin screening earlier.
Everyone is at risk for colon cancer, but you can take precautions to lower your risk:
- Avoid smoking.
- Use alcohol in moderation.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Reduce intake of red meat and processed foods.
- Increase servings of fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Exercise regularly.
Schedule Your Colonoscopy at Age 45
Don’t leave any of your healthcare benefits on the table. Contact your insurance company to verify your status and call today to schedule your colonoscopy or GI procedure at an ASC.