The last quarter of the year is upon us, so it is time to ask an important question: Have you met your healthcare deductible? If so, you may be able to take full advantage of your health insurance benefits by scheduling a screening colonoscopy before the end of the year.
Affordable Colon Cancer Screening Procedures
Health insurance is an investment, so it makes sense to receive maximum benefit from your investment. Most healthcare deductibles reset in January, so it is advantageous for you to schedule procedures and screenings after you have met your deductible.
Colonoscopy screening is essential to your wellness because it allows for early detection and removal of potentially cancerous growths called polyps. In addition, you can schedule your procedure at an ambulatory surgery center (ASC) to save money because an ASC has lower facility fees than hospitals.
What Is a Colonoscopy?
During colonoscopy, your doctor (gastroenterologist) will use a colonoscope, a flexible tube with a tiny camera, to look for abnormalities in the colon. If polyps are found, they can be removed and analyzed. The procedure takes about 30 minutes, during which time you will be sedated.
There are many types of colon cancer screenings, like flexible sigmoidoscopy, double contrast barium enema or stool tests looking for occult blood or certain genetic markers. Colonoscopy is the most effective method for colon cancer screening because your doctor can detect colon cancer and remove precancerous polyps during the same procedure.
Is a Stool Test Just as Effective?
Stool tests, although less invasive, can only detect the presence of genetic markers of cancer or hidden blood. A positive test requires a follow-up colonoscopy, so it is more efficient to select colonoscopy as your screening procedure. There are some advantages to stool tests, however. They are simple, quick and less expensive.
The Affordable Care Act requires most private insurers to cover the costs of colorectal cancer (CRC) screening tests. As of May 31, 2022, one crucial guideline change is that most patients will not pay out-of-pocket costs for a follow-up colonoscopy after a positive stool test. Plans vary, so it is important to contact your provider to determine your coverage.
Early Detection and Young-onset Colon Cancer
Early detection is key in colon cancer because it is more treatable in the early stages. According to the new guidelines of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, adults at average risk for colon cancer should begin screening at age 45. Patients with a family history of colon cancer or precancerous polyps as well as certain genetic cancer syndromes may need to begin screening even earlier.
Colon cancer prevention begins with knowing the symptoms of colon cancer. Some people do not have symptoms, but common warning signs may include the following:
- Abdominal pain
- Blood in the stool
- Change in bowel habits
It’s important to understand that you’re never too young to develop colon cancer. Young-onset colon cancer is on the rise in the United States, and young adults tend to have more aggressive tumors that are challenging to treat. However, familiarizing yourself with colon cancer symptoms can be life-saving, so do not delay making an appointment if you experience any warning signs.
Schedule Your Colonoscopy at Age 45
Use your healthcare benefits to your advantage. Contact your insurance company to verify your status and schedule your colonoscopy at an ASC. Scheduling colonoscopy at recommended intervals helps ensure that your doctor can detect and remove any polyps before they become cancerous. Contrary to popular belief, a colonoscopy is not painful, expensive or time-consuming. You will only have to miss a day of work, and the sedation makes the procedure pain free.
Find a Gastroenterologist in Your Area
Are you looking for a fellowship-trained gastroenterologist in your local area? Our colon cancer screening centers are located nationwide, and our physicians are accepting new patients.