Navigating the murky waters of colorectal cancer screening and health reform

Am J Public Health. 2014 Jun;104(6):982-6. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.301877. Epub 2014 Apr 17.


The Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates that both Medicaid and insurance plans cover life-saving preventive services recommended by the US Preventive Services Task Force, including colorectal cancer (CRC) screening and choice between colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and fecal occult blood testing (FOBT). People who choose FOBT or sigmoidoscopy as their initial test could face high, unexpected, out-of-pocket costs because the mandate does not cover needed follow-up colonoscopies after positive tests. Some people will have no coverage for any CRC screening because of lack of state participation in the ACA or because they do not qualify (e.g., immigrant workers). Existing disparities in CRC screening and mortality will worsen if policies are not corrected to fully cover both initial and follow-up testing.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Colonoscopy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Early Detection of Cancer*
  • Health Care Reform* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Healthcare Disparities / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Medically Uninsured
  • Medicare
  • Middle Aged
  • Occult Blood
  • Patient Preference
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Sigmoidoscopy
  • United States / epidemiology