Costs of Two Health Insurance Plan Programs to Mail Fecal Immunochemical Tests to Medicare and Medicaid Plan Members

Popul Health Manag. 2021 Apr;24(2):255-265. doi: 10.1089/pop.2020.0041. Epub 2020 Jun 29.


BeneFIT is a 4-year observational study of a mailed fecal immunochemical test (FIT) program in 2 Medicaid/Medicare health plans in Oregon and Washington. In Health Plan Oregon's (HPO) collaborative model, HPO mails FITs that enrollees return to their clinics for processing. In Health Plan Washington's (HPW) centralized model, FITs are mailed directly to enrollees who return them to a centralized laboratory. This paper examines model-specific Year 1 development and implementation costs and estimates costs per screened enrollee. Staff completed activity-based costing spreadsheets. Non-labor costs were from study and external data. Data matched each plan's 2016 development and implementation dates. HPO development costs were $23.0K, primarily administration (eg, clinic recruitment). HPW development costs were $37.3K, 38.8% for FIT selection and mailing/tracking protocols. Year 1 implementation costs were $51.6K for HPO and $139.7K for HPW, reflecting HPW's greater outreach. Labor was 50.4% ($26.0K) of HPO's implementation costs, primarily enrollee eligibility and processing returned FITs, and was shared by HPO ($17.0K) and 6 participating clinics ($9.0K). Labor was 10.5% of HPW's implementation costs, primarily administration and enrollee eligibility. HPO's implementation costs per enrollee were 12.3% higher ($18.36) than for HPW ($16.34). Similar proportions of completed FITs among screening-eligibles produced a 15% lower cost per completed FIT in HPW ($89.75) vs. HPO ($105.79). Implementation costs for HPO only (without clinic costs) were $15.16/mailed introductory letter, $16.09/mailed FIT, and $87.35/completed FIT, comparable to HPW. Results highlight cost implications of different approaches to implementing a mailed FIT program in 2 Medicaid/Medicare health plans.

Keywords: colorectal cancer; cost; population screening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.