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does Medicare cover skin cancer screening

Does Medicare Cover Skin Cancer Screening?

In the U.S. about 20% of people will get skin cancer before the age of 70.  

While that’s a high number, there is some good news. When it’s detected early, the 5-year survival rate of those with melanoma is 99%.  

That’s why skin cancer screenings are so important. Generally speaking, the earlier it is detected, the better the prognosis.  

This leads to a common question many people have which is, “Does Medicare cover Skin Cancer Screening?” In this article, we answer that question in clear, plain English. You will also find the average costs of skin cancer screening and other helpful info. 

Does Medicare Cover Skin Cancer Screening? 

The short answer is it depends on the situation. Below we’ll take a closer look at this to see when you can get Medicare to pay for your screening for skin cancer.  

If you go to the doctor for a purely routine, preventative skin cancer screening, Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) does not provide coverage. Original Medicare will not pay for screening costs for those who do not show any signs or symptoms of the illness. 

But, if you notice that you have a mole that changes in appearance or have new skin growth, then Medicare will cover the cost of screening.  

Also, if you visit your healthcare provider for a totally different reason, and he/she notices signs or symptoms of skin cancer, then Original Medicare may pay more for that visit. And if the doctor then refers you to a dermatologist, Medicare will pay for that visit too. 

Original Medicare also provides coverage for treatment of skin cancer. Medicare Part A provides coverage for skin cancer treatment if it takes place in an inpatient setting. Treatments for skin cancer that Medicare Part A covers include the following: 

  • Blood work 
  • Hospice care 
  • Home healthcare 

Medicare Part B also provides coverage for treatment for skin cancer. Skin cancer treatments that Medicare Part B covers include: 

  • Outpatient surgery 
  • Outpatient radiation therapy  
  • Diagnostic tests including X-rays 
  • Chemotherapy drugs 

Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C) may also provide coverage for skin cancer screenings and other skin cancer treatment. The conditions above apply to Part C as well. These plans cover everything Original Medicare covers as well as offer some additional benefits. However, coverage and out-of-pocket costs will vary depending on the specifics of your plan.  

How Much Does Skin Cancer Screening Cost? 

On average, a skin cancer screening costs around $150. The office visits usually cost about $105, and the biopsy may run about $45.  

What Is a Skin Cancer Screening? 

Skin cancer screening is a visual examination of the skin. In this procedure, the healthcare provider checks changes in the skin, moles, and birthmarks. These changes may be in color, size, shape, or textures.  

You may be at higher risk of having skin cancer if you are/have: 

  • Light skin tone 
  • Blond or red hair 
  • Light-colored eyes like blue or green 
  • Family or personal history of skin cancer 

Note: Medicare coverage changes all the time. And your specific coverage may vary from plan to plan for Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans. Always be sure to double check with your health care provider and/or Medicare insurance provider about what your plan covers and what it does not.

Additional Info on Medicare Coverage

This article is part of our series on “What does Medicare cover?”

Also, you can check out other articles in this series including: Does Medicare cover cataract surgery?

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