Lung cancer claims the lives of approximately 160,000 people each year and remains the leading cause of death in the United States. (NBC News). On Monday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed a change to Medicare coverage that would provide low-dose CT scans to current and former smokers. (ABC News). As the proposal is currently written, an individual age 55 to 74, without any sign of lung disease, who smoked at least a pack a day for 30 years would qualify for preventative lung screening. (NBC News). These proposed changes to Medicare emphasize the importance of preventative screening because early detection often leads to better chance of recovery.
Currently, most private insurance plans cover these preventative checks. Medicare, however, does not cover these preventative screenings. (American Cancer Society). For those without private insurance, these tests can cost anywhere from $100 to $400. (ABC News). This poses a significant burden that prevents many smokers or former smokers from being tested. If adopted, approximately 5 million people would become eligible for screening; potentially saving thousands of lives per year. (NBC News). The CMS is expected to make a final decision on the proposal in February.
Attorneys at Doran & Murphy represent railroad workers who have developed cancer from occupational exposures to asbestos and diesel exhaust, even if the worker smoked cigarettes. If you are a railroad worker who is a current or former smoker, have been exposed to asbestos, and have been diagnosed with cancer, contact us for information about whether you may have a case.
**UPDATED 2/20/15** Medicare has determined that it will pay for lung cancer screening for those who meet the designated criteria. Advocacy groups are pushing for these criteria to be expanded to include more people, including non-smokers.