If you’re struggling to understand Medicare, Connie can help. Ask Connie your question, and a local, licensed agent will help you navigate your Medicare journey. Complete this form to have your question answered. It could be featured on Dear Connie.
I’m 70 and haven’t had a colon cancer screening; honestly, a colonoscopy frightens me. I’ve heard of a less invasive option – Cologuard. And I’m wondering, does Medicare cover Cologuard?
It’s time to get screened for colon cancer,
John from Georgetown, Texas
We’re happy to hear you’re weighing your colon cancer screening options. You’ve come to the right place to ask your question, and we’ll do our best to help.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, there were 106,970 new cases of colon cancer in 2023. Luckily, the prevalence of colon cancer is declining because more people are being screened.
It’s recommended by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force that all adults aged 45 to 75 be screened for colorectal cancer. Since you’re 70 and have yet to be screened, we highly recommend it.
“Original Medicare covers the Cologuard test once every three years. However, you must meet specific criteria. Cologuard is the only screening stool DNA test covered by Medicare.“
There are cases where you might be at an increased or high risk for colon cancer. Here are six instances where you should consult with your doctor and create a screening plan that’s tailored for you.
You are at increased risk of colon cancer if:
You are at high risk of colorectal cancer if:
If you or anyone you know has an increased risk of colorectal cancer, they should talk to their doctor about when to begin screening, the screening test that’s right for them, and how often they should be screened.
There are several screening tests that can be used to find polyps or colorectal cancer. Most commonly, there are stool-based tests and visual exams of the colon and rectum. These tests require different screening frequencies. Stool-based tests usually require screening at a higher frequency than visual exams.
It’s critical that you know that if your test is positive on some screening tests, a colonoscopy is needed to complete the screening process. You should consult your doctor to determine which test is right for you.
Cologuard is a multitarget stool DNA test. It is a detection tool used to evaluate fecal matter to determine whether colorectal cancer is present in the sample. It is a non-invasive sample, unlike standard colonoscopy procedures.
Once the fecal sample is collected, a DNA test evaluates whether or not blood and specific DNA mutations are in the sample. The test can also reveal particular markers that note whether or not polyps have formed in the digestive tract.
This test is best for those with an average risk of colorectal cancer and not those with an increased or high risk. Cologuard is also not designed to replace a colonoscopy.
As of October 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) determined that Original Medicare Part B would begin covering the Cologuard test once every three years. However, you must meet specific criteria.
To qualify, you must be between 50 and 85, asymptomatic for colorectal cancer, and at average risk of developing colorectal cancer.
This means you should not have any signs or symptoms of the disease, including but not limited to gastrointestinal pain, blood in stool, positive guaiac fecal occult blood test, or fecal immunochemical test.
You must also have no personal history of colorectal cancer, adenomatous polyps, or inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis; no family history of colorectal cancers or adenomatous polyps, familial adenomatous polyposis, or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer.
Because colon cancer screening is a preventative measure, Original Medicare Part B will cover Cologuard screenings at no cost. All other screening stool DNA tests remain nationally non-covered. You should check with your insurance plan if you want another type of DNA colon cancer screening.
Medicare Advantage plans must provide the same benefits as Original Medicare. So, these plans also cover colon and rectal cancer screenings.
I hope that this helps you answer the question does Medicare cover Cologuard. It’s crucial that you get your preventative care screenings. Curious if Medicare covers a colonoscopy? We’ve also responded to that question: Does Medicare cover colonoscopy?
At Connie Health, we help you throughout your Medicare journey. If you have additional coverage questions, contact a local licensed Connie Health agent at (623) 223-8884 (TTY: 711).
American Cancer Society Guideline for Colorectal Cancer Screening.
Colon cancer: Let’s learn the facts.
Key Statistics for Colorectal Cancer.
Screening for Colorectal Cancer – Stool DNA Testing.
Last updated: February 23, 2023
Colonoscopies are usually a preventative procedure. If you’ve had a positive Cologuard test, a colonoscopy afterward is now a diagnostic service. Because of this, you will owe coinsurance with the service.
The coinsurance percentage is changing. Here are the percentages you can expect to pay between 2023 and 2030, and beyond.
Original Medicare Part B covers the Cologuard test once every three years.
However, you must meet the following criteria to qualify:
Cologuard screenings are covered by Original Medicare Part B at no cost. If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, they must provide the same benefits as Original Medicare. So, these plans also cover Cologuard screenings at no cost.
You should check with your insurance plan if you’re interested in another type of DNA colon cancer screening.
Read more by Sid Martinez
I am a Spanish-speaking Texas Life and Health Insurance Licensed Agent and have been helping people with Medicare since 2011. When not working, you can find me exploring new places in the Lone Star State, or watching movies and TV shows.