SPRINGFIELD – Following a recommendation by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force to lower the recommended age to start screening for colon and rectal cancers, the Illinois Senate approved legislation sponsored by State Senator Adriane Johnson (D-Buffalo Grove) to require insurance companies to cover medically necessary colonoscopies.

052520210014“Preparing for a colonoscopy can be nerve-wracking, but it’s worth the stress: A colonoscopy can detect, or even prevent, cancer,” Johnson said. “Cost shouldn’t be a barrier to anyone who needs this potentially life-saving procedure.”

The legislation would require health insurance companies to cover the cost of a colonoscopy that has been deemed medically necessary after an initial screening. Patients would not be charged a deductible, coinsurance, copayment or other cost-sharing requirement for the procedure.

Last week, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force— the leading panel for medical guidance in the U.S.—published a statement lowering the recommended age to start screening for colorectal cancers from 50 to 45.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of cancer-related death for both men and women, according to the American Cancer Society. However, if caught early, colorectal cancer has a 90% survival rate.

Not only can a colonoscopy screen for colorectal cancer—it is one of the only screening tests that can actually prevent colon cancer by finding and removing colon polyps before they become cancerous.

“The new official age recommendation is a victory for preventative care advocates—it means more patients will be able to depend on their insurance to cover colonoscopies,” Johnson said. “This legislation takes that expansion one step further, giving patients of all ages the ability to take care of their own health.”

House Bill 2653 passed the Senate Thursday with bipartisan support.