Tuesday, November 9, 2010

CT Screening for Smokers

The topic of CT scan screening for smokers is a touchy one. It actually explains what is so crazy about our health care system. A recent study shows that CT scans can reduce lung cancer deaths of smokers by 20%. The cost of this would be outrageous, however, so this is a huge dilemma.

First, should we be judgmental and toss away this information? Smokers are causing their own illnesses but so are those who are obese and don't exercise. The evidence, at least right now, shows that this screening tool would be as effective as a mammogram. Should we discriminate?

Second, who will pay for these screenings? Medicare is going to be challenged to cover it but I guess the tobacco companies could be forced to cover them. Heck, they may want to as it may increase their sales. If they don't, should others be burdened with this cost? Our health care system is bankrupt so should we be adding new costs like this?

Lastly, even if it was paid for, should we endorse these screenings? Well, I am just a grunt. If the USPSTF tells me to screen, I probably will screen. I do it for AAA screenings and that is for smokers as well. I just wonder if smokers will be LESS apt to quit knowing that there is a better cancer screening for them.

Questions like these just make you want to sit down, pull out your pack of Lucky's and think for a while.


Glen F. Marshall said...

I would support supplemental insurance policies for smokers to cover smoking-caused illnesses. Then we can exclude those illnesses from the general risk pool and reduce the cost of insurance for everyone else.

Anonymous said...

I would support an extra cost to my insurance for this screening. My husband a 2 pack a day smoker for over 40 years tried so many times to quit his addiction, and just couldn't. He passed away just 49 days after his cancer was dx, missed by chest x rays.

Smoking facts said...

This is a tough subject for sure. The same argument has been made for PFT screening for COPD. If the PFT comes back normal, will the smoker keep smoking? If it is abnormal, will they view it as the warning it is?

Smoking cost the US economy over $193 Billion last year. That is in direct medical costs and lost productivity/wages.

I recently heard that alcohol is now deemed the most deadly drug on the planet. I beg to differ.