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USPTS nixes required coverage for visual skin screenings

August 1, 2016
by Pamela Tabar, Editor-in-Chief
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Skin cancer screenings have long been viewed as a crucial part of wellness, but a report from a key review agency may limit how Medicare will cover skin screenings that are based on visual information only.

Visual skin screenings, where a physician or dermatologist conducts a visual check of the skin’s surface, have been given a rating of “I,” or “insufficient evidence” to balance the potential pros versus cons, in the latest report from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), the leading body for recommendations on screening and wellness tests. The report echoes the results given in the previous USPSTF examination of the topic in 2009.

The federal Medicare program tends to follow the recommendations of the USPSTF in determining which screening tests will be covered under the program’s wellness coverage.

The results are a disappointment to many gerontologists, since the skin of older adults is more prevalent to damage and weakness than younger skin. Doctors spoke out about the rating in a recent editorial in JAMA Oncology journal, saying the decision was “too restrictive” and that screenings should be “a part of regular physical examinations.”

Skin melanoma rates have risen in recent years, and the disease remains the most common form of cancer in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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