Lung Cancer Screening Found Cost-Effective in Medicare

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Findings among Medicare beneficiaries at high-risk due to past smoking.
Findings among Medicare beneficiaries at high-risk due to past smoking.

Low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) is a low-cost and cost-effective strategy for screening Medicare beneficiaries for lung cancer, according to a study published in American Health & Drug Benefits.

Bruce S. Pyenson, from Milliman Inc. in New York City, and colleagues estimated the cost and cost-effectiveness (cost per life-year saved) of LDCT lung cancer screening in the Medicare population at high risk for lung cancer. Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) beneficiary files (2012) were used to establish Medicare costs, enrollment, and demographics. CMS and U.S. Census Bureau projections were used for forecasts to 2014.

The researchers found that approximately 4.9 million high-risk Medicare beneficiaries would meet criteria for lung cancer screening in 2014. Without screening, Medicare patients newly diagnosed with lung cancer have an average life expectancy of approximately three years.

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The average annual cost of LDCT lung cancer screening is estimated to be $241 per Medicare person screened. For Medicare beneficiaries aged 55 to 80 years with a history of ≥30 pack-years of smoking and who had smoked within 15 years, assuming a 50 percent screening rate, LDCT screening for lung cancer is low cost, at approximately $1 per member per month. This screening demonstrates highly cost-effectiveness, at <$19,000 per life-year saved.

"If all eligible Medicare beneficiaries had been screened and treated consistently from age 55 years, approximately 358,134 additional individuals with current or past lung cancer would be alive in 2014," the authors write. "LDCT screening is a low-cost and cost-effective strategy that fits well within the standard Medicare benefit, including its claims payment and quality monitoring."

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the medical device industry.

Reference

  1. Pyenson, Bruce, FSA, MAAA, et al. "Offering Lung Cancer Screening to High-Risk Medicare Beneficiaries Saves Lives and Is Cost-Effective: An Actuarial Analysis." American Health & Drug Benefits. October 3, 2014.

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