Better insurance may mean more than better access
It’s no surprise that better insurance coverage means more accessibility to tests. This includes higher rates of colon cancer screening, and of course better outcomes for those patients who do get screened. What’s surprising though, is that the extent of coverage can also mean that a patient is more likely to have tests not necessarily within the specific scope of coverage.
An article published in the recent issue of Radiology suggests that patients whose insurance covers a virtual colonoscopy (CT colonography) are more likely to have screening of any type (including colonoscopy) than just virtual colonoscopy alone. A review of records for 33,177 patients younger than 65 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison assessing their use of screening tests for colorectal cancer found that patients whose insurance covered CT colonography were 48% more likely to undergo screening with any method compared with patients whose insurance did not cover CT colonography. Because virtual colonoscopy is not the gold standard, insurance coverage is rather limited. However, the authors found that when insurance coverage did include this technology, the patient’s wound up being better served overall whether they chose that route or conventional colonoscopy.
Does this mean that the availability of virtual colonoscopy offers patients more choices, more options to discuss with their physician, and leads to more screening in general? Are the patients better consumers who can make better decisions? Or does it mean that something about the availability of virtual colonoscopy somehow make screening in general more likely?
We may never know, but if you have not gotten screened and you are due, you should make your appointment!