Md. House to consider bill to eliminate co-payments for prostate cancer screenings

A bill in the Maryland General Assembly would lower price barriers to getting screening for prostate cancer, advocates say.

House Bill 852 would require health insurers to cover the cost of the screenings and prohibit insurance companies from applying a deductible, a co-payment or coinsurance to either traditional digital examinations or the blood test known as a prostate-specific antigen test.

The bill covers men age 40 to 75.

The bill, which has 29 sponsors, will be introduced at a House committee hearing Thursday. If it passes, Maryland will be the second state in the country to pass such a law.

Patrice Brown, of the advocacy group ZERO — The End of Prostate Cancer, called the bill “a historic effort” in a statement.

“It is proven that removing barriers to the PSA screening test and/or digital rectal exams, and thus diagnosing prostate cancer at an earlier stage, is much more cost-effective than treating late-stage prostate cancer,” Brown said.

Brown added that there are no co-payments for mammograms or cervical cancer screenings.

Prostate cancer was the most commonly diagnosed male-only cancer among Maryland men and the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among men nationwide, Brown said.

The American Cancer Society estimates there will be about 33,000 deaths from prostate cancer in 2020.

One man in about nine will be diagnosed with the disease during their lifetimes, and one in roughly 41 will die of it, the organization said.

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