Send to

Choose Destination
Am J Manag Care. 2004 Apr;10(4):273-9.

Health plan policies and programs for colorectal cancer screening: a national profile.

Author information

Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute (NCI), Executive Plaza North Room 4005, 6130 Executive Boulevard, Bethesda, MD 20892-7344, USA.



A consensus has emerged that average-risk adults 50 years of age or older should be screened for colorectal cancer (CRC).


To describe health plans' coverage policies, guidelines, and organized programs to promote CRC screening.


Review of data from the National Cancer Institute Survey of Colorectal Cancer Screening Practices, administered to a national sample of health plans in 1999-2000. The survey inquired about coverage policies for fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, and double-contrast barium enema; the nature of any guidelines the plan had issued to its providers on CRC screening; and systems for recruiting patients into screening and for tracking and reporting the results of screening and follow-up procedures.


Of 346 eligible health plans, 180 (52%) responded. Nearly all health plans covered at least 1 CRC screening modality. Plans were most likely to cover fecal occult blood testing (97%) and least likely to cover colonoscopy (57%). Sixty-five percent had issued guidelines on CRC screening to providers. One quarter had a mechanism to remind patients that they are due for CRC screening, but fewer had systems for prompting providers, contacting noncompliant patients, or tracking completion of screening.


Health plans have the ability to provide organizational infrastructure for a broad range of preventive services to well-defined populations. However, few health plans had all 3 essential CRC screening delivery components--coverage, guidelines, and tracking systems--in place in 1999-2000.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Managed Care & Healthcare Communications, LLC
Loading ...
Support Center