Aim: While colorectal cancer (CRC) is an ideal target for population screening, physician and patient attitudes contribute to low levels of screening uptake. This study was carried out to find feasible economic strategies to improve the CRC screening compliance in Korea.
Methods: The natural history of a simulated cohort of 50-year-old Korean in the general population was modeled with CRC screening until the age of 80 years. Cases of positive results were worked up with colonoscopy. After polypectomy, colonoscopy was repeated every 3 years. Baseline screening compliance without insurance coverage by the national health insurance (NHI) was assumed to be 30%. If NHI covered the CRC screening or the reimbursement of screening to physicians increased, the compliance was assumed to increase. We evaluated 16 different CRC screening strategies based on Markov model.
Results: When the NHI did not cover the screening and compliance was 30%, non-dominated strategies were colonoscopy every 5 years (COL5) and colonoscopy every 3 years (COL3). In all scenarios of various compliance rates with raised coverage of the NHI and increased reimbursement of colonoscopy, COL10, COL5 and COL3 were non-dominated strategies, and COL10 had lower or minimal incremental medical cost and financial burden on the NHI than the strategy of no screening. These results were stable with sensitivity analyses.
Conclusion: Economic strategies for promoting screening compliance can be accompanied by expanding insurance coverage by the NHI and by increasing reimbursement for CRC screening to providers. COL10 was a cost-effective and cost saving screening strategy for CRC in Korea.