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In Tougher Economy, Fewer Americans Get Colonoscopy
Date:2/25/2012

-- seems to have occurred with mammograms, according to study background information.

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed colonoscopy can prevent colorectal cancer and dramatically reduce deaths from the disease. "Let's hope the economy gets better and we can try to get rid of cost sharing for colonoscopy," Dorn said.

As part of health reform, federal changes are under way that do away with co-pays for people covered by Medicare, Medicaid or new insurers for any test that the USPSTF deems as grade A. This includes colonoscopy.

Such cost-cutting measures are needed if Americans are to comply with recommended screening guidelines, the study authors and other experts say.

Among them is Dr. Robynne Chutkan, an assistant professor of medicine at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C. "Screening colonoscopy saves lives and is an important part of the preventive health care measures that we recommend for people age 50 and older," said Chutkan.

"One can only hope that at least some of the decrease in colonoscopies during the time period described represented people who were in financial straits at the time, but have now recovered and are able to refocus on their health," Chutkan said.

"We know that cost-sharing is a disincentive psychologically, even if the co-pay amount is small and 'affordable.' In principle, it is still a barrier for many people," Chutkan said.

More information

Learn more about colon cancer screening recommendations at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Spencer D. Dorn, M.D., MPH, assistant professor, medicine, division of gastroenterology and hepatology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Robynne Chutkan, M.D., assistant professor, medicine, Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, D.
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