Any decision where an insurance company decides to cover preventative care, especially for cancer, deserves both kudos and some applause. It has been announced that both Health Care Services (HCSC) and Florida Blue will now cover the Exact Sciences Cologuard Colon Cancer Screen Test.
Approved by US regulators in 2014, Cologuard gauges altered DNA in a stool, which are indicators of colorectal cancer.
According to Exact Sciences, the two insurers are adding a combined number of 18 million people that are eligible for the colon cancer screening test. This creates a total number of 80 million worldwide that are eligible via their insurance policies to have access to the colon cancer screening test. In fact, Exact Sciences Cologuard Colon Cancer Test was included in the updated recommendations by the US Preventative Services Task Force specifically for colorectal cancer screenings.
So how does this test work?
Well, every day your colon (and everyone else’s) sheds cells. If you have pre-cancerous cells or cancer cells in your colon, these “abnormal” cells are shed along with healthy cells. As a stool passes through the colon these cells hitch a ride out of the body. Exact Sciences Cologuard Test works as follows:
A box comes to your home. You open it to find a container that looks like a plastic 1-quart yogurt container with wings, a collection vial, and a squirt bottle of liquid, about the size of one of those big jars of acrylic paint. You place the container will the wings on the rim of the toilet (hence the wings) the wings rest on the rim and the container is dead center over the toilet. Then you poop. You do have to participate a little; right?
You take a little sample of your poop and seal it in the vial. You then pour the liquid in that squirt bottle over the poop in the collection container with wings. This liquid is a “fecal preservative,” and you seal the winged container. You label both the samples with name, birth date, time, date, put it all back in the box. It has a prepaid UPS overnight shipping label on it, and UPS comes and gets your poop (sorry, could not resist, but at least we did not make a “man in brown” joke) …. and that is pretty much it.
All joking aside, this is a very big deal. A home test for colorectal cancer, and it is a great thing that insurance companies are stepping up to pay for it. Hats off to Exact Sciences for bringing a test to the people – something we at Cancer Horizons wholeheartedly support.
The HCSC’s policy update begins to allow Cologuard to be considered as “medically necessary” for colorectal screening once every three years for patients with an “average risk” factor who are not current with their colorectal screening. Florida Blue is pretty much the same. If you are covered by either plan, please consult with your provider.
Again, good job HCSS and Florida Blue. Keep making it easier for people to get access to preventative care and coverage.