A new law passed during the Indiana General Assembly’s 2020 session now requires insurance companies to cover colonoscopies at age 45 instead of the previously recommended 50. The law comes two years after the American Cancer Society modified their guidelines for colon cancer screenings.

In a study published in 2017 by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers found that from the mid-1980s through 2013, colorectal cancer incidence rates in adults age 55 years and older were declining while incidence rates for adults between the ages of 20 and 49 were increasing. It is speculated that the increase in colorectal cancer incidents in young adults is attributed to the fact that screenings were previously not recommended for those under 50.

Implications

It is estimated that there will be around 104,000 newly diagnosed cases of colon cancer and around 43,000 new cases of rectal cancer in the United States in 2020. Almost 18,000 of these cases are estimated to be diagnosed in adults younger than 50. The American Cancer Society estimates that among these numbers, 3,410 will be Indiana residents. Inspired by these statistics, the new Indiana law allows for cases to be diagnosed at an earlier age since screenings are now covered for those 45 years and older. Rep. Brad Barrett, who drafted the law, emphasized its benefits by explaining that insurance costs could potentially decrease if people are diagnosed at an early stage since “the cost of treatment will be less than if it had been caught at a later stage.” The five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer that has been detected early is 90%.

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