Loss Leader? Low-Cost CT for Smokers Gains Popularity

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With new research showing that CT scans may help in the early detection of lung-cancer in current or former smokers, hospitals are increasingly offering steeply discounted CT scans to patients for cash, reports Kaiser Health News (KHN).

Because CT screening for lung cancer is typically not covered by insurance, patients must pay out of pocket for the scans. Hospitals are facilitating the scanning by dropping the cost of the test to amounts most middle class consumers can easily afford. According to KHN, St. Luke's Hospital in Bethlehem, Pa., offered a clip-out coupon for a $49 procedure and University Hospitals in Cleveland is promoting a $99 procedure.

When a suspicious growth is detected during the screening test, the hospital that offered the low-cost scan is often the one the grateful patient will turn to for diagnosis and, if necessary, cancer treatment. However, there is some concern that hospitals may also be benefiting from the follow-up tests that are triggered when the CT screening leads to a false positive for lung cancer, KHN says.

Learn more by reading the KHN article.