Charging Medicare beneficiaries copayments for mammography screenings was linked to significantly lower screening rates among beneficiaries, researchers reported in a study in the New England Journal of Medicine.
According to the study's authors, the number of Medicare managed care plans that required a copay of more than $10 or coinsurance of more than 10% for mammograms increased from three plans in 2001 to 21 in 2004. Researchers noted, however, that screening rates were 8.3% lower among beneficiaries enrolled in plans that charged copays than among beneficiaries in plans that provided full coverage of mammography.
The study concluded that the rising number of plans requiring copays for mammography screenings will reduce the number of Medicare beneficiaries who receive mammograms. In addition, researchers recommended that elderly beneficiaries be exempt from copays for preventive screenings (Trivedi et al., New England Journal of Medicine, 1/24).