Kentucky law covers colon cancer screenings — 5 takeaways

As of Jan. 1, 2016, all screening colonoscopies in Kentucky are fully covered by insurance, even if a polyp is found and removed, according to the Courier-Journal.

Here are five takeaways:

1. The law also covers a patient who has a non-invasive fecal test that comes up positive and requires a follow-up colonoscopy to prevent an unexpected bill or copay.

2. The Colon Cancer Prevention Project, a nonprofit advocacy organization based in Louisville, Ky., pushed for the law last winter as a way to keep boosting screening rates in a state hit hard by colon cancer.

3. According to the National Cancer Institute, Kentucky had the nation's fifth highest colon cancer death rate in the latest period examined, 2008 to 2012. The state has lost an average of 858 residents a year to the disease.

4. Whitney F. Jones, MD, a gastroenterologist and founder of the prevention project, said Kentucky is now one of only three states that covers colonoscopy after a fecal immunochemical test, or FIT, and the only state that covers colonoscopy after a Cologuard stool DNA test.

5. Advocates and medical experts are optimistic this law will hasten the progress that's already been made in colon cancer screening. In its 11 years, the prevention project has raised money and awareness of the disease across Kentucky and pushed for programs such as free screening for low-income, uninsured residents. Over that time, Kentucky's colon cancer screening rate has more than doubled 69.6 percent and colorectal cancer deaths are down more than 25 percent statewide.

More articles on GI & endoscopy:
GI physician to know: Dr. Nicholas Shaheen of UNC Health Care
5 most read GI/endoscopy stories: Week of Feb. 15 — Feb. 19
Dr. Pankaj Vashi: 10 qualities to look for in a GI physician partner

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