Does Medicare Cover Skin Cancer Treatment?
This article was updated on: 09/10/2018
Statistics from the American Cancer Society show that skin cancers are by far the most commonly diagnosed types of cancer in the U.S. The Skin Cancer Foundation states that one in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer during their lifetime. In fact, over the past 30 years, more people have been diagnosed with skin cancer than with all other types of cancer combined.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with skin cancer and you are covered under Medicare, here’s what you need to know about Medicare and skin cancer treatment.
What are the different types of skin cancer?
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), there are five types of skin cancer:
- Basal and squamous cell skin cancer
- Merkel cell skin cancer
- Lymphoma of the skin
- Kaposi’s sarcoma
The vast majority of skin cancer cases are basal and squamous cell, which the ACS says accounts for eight in 10 of all new skin cancer diagnoses. Melanomas are far less common, representing about 1% of all skin cancers, but they account for the majority of all skin cancer deaths, according to the ACS. The other three types are rarer, according to ACS statistics.
What is the most common skin cancer treatment?
Skin cancer treatment depends on the type, location, and stage of cancer you have. Your skin cancer treatment may include surgery, immunotherapy, radiation, chemotherapy, and other types of targeted therapies according to the ACS.
Skin cancer treatment decisions generally take into account your age and general health status, the likelihood that your cancer can be cured or your symptoms improved, and possible side effects, such as scarring or changes in your appearance. You and your skin cancer treatment team will discuss your options and help you arrive at the best treatment choice for you. Your skin cancer treatment team may include a surgical oncologist, a dermatologist, a radiation oncologist, and your medical oncologist.
How does Medicare cover skin cancer treatment?
If you are enrolled in Original Medicare (Part A and Part B), any medically necessary skin cancer treatment your doctor recommends is generally covered. Part B covers your doctors’ services, lab tests, and other diagnostic tests and procedures you have as an outpatient, while Part A covers your care while you are an inpatient in the hospital or skilled nursing facility. You are responsible for any applicable Part A and Part B deductibles, coinsurance, and copayment amounts.
If you have a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan, most medications used for skin cancer treatment are also covered, less any deductibles, copayment, or coinsurance amounts.
Medicare Advantage plans, which are an alternate way to get your Original Medicare benefits, also cover medically necessary skin cancer treatment. These plans are offered by private insurance companies approved by Medicare, and by law, they must cover everything that Original Medicare covers, although some may include additional benefits such as routine vision, dental, and hearing services. Depending on the plan you choose, you may need to use providers in the plan’s network or get prior authorization for your skin cancer treatment. Note that even under Medicare Advantage, hospice care is still covered under Part A.
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