HealthDay News — Low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) is a cost-effective strategy for screening Medicare beneficiaries for lung cancer, results of a study published in American Health & Drug Benefits indicate.

Approximately 225,000 patients will be diagnosed with lung cancer, and more than 150,000 patients will die as a result of the disease in 2014, noted Bruce S. Pyenson, FSA, MAAA, of Milliman Inc. in New York City, and colleagues.

To estimate the cost and cost-effectiveness (cost per-life year saved) of LDCT lung cancer screening within Medicare population at high-risk for lung cancer, the investigators used 2012 Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) beneficiary to establish Medicare costs, enrollment, and demographics. CMS and United States Census Bureau projections were used for forecasts to 2014.

Continue Reading

Nearly 4.9 million high-risk Medicare patients would meet criteria for lung cancer in 2014. Without screening, Medicare patients newly diagnosed with the condition will have an average life expectancy of three years.

The average annual cost of LDCT lung cancer screening is estimated to be $241 per Medicare person screened. Assuming a 50% screening rate, beneficiaries aged 55 to 80 years with a history of ≥30 pack-years of smoking and who had smoked within 15 years, LDCT screening for lung cancer is low cost, at approximately $1 per member per month. This screening demonstrates highly cost-effectiveness, at <$19,000 per life-year saved, noted the study authors.

“If all eligible Medicare beneficiaries had been screened and treated consistently from age 55 years, approximately 358,134 additional individuals with current or past lung cancer would be alive in 2014,” concluded the researchers.

“LDCT screening is a low-cost and cost-effective strategy that fits well within the standard Medicare benefit, including its claims payment and quality monitoring.”


  1. Pyenson B et al. American Health & Drug Benefits. 2014;7(5):272-282