WASHINGTONNew cancer-screening benefits for Medicare patients took effect on Jan. 1. They include:
1. Annual screening mammograms for women age 40 and up, and a one-time baseline mammogram for women age 35 through 39. Beneficiaries must pay the usual 20% copayment.
2. A Pap smear screening every 3 years that includes both a pelvic exam and a clinical breast exam. For women at high risk of cervical or vaginal cancer, those of childbearing age who have had an indication of either cancer, or those with an abnormal Pap smear during the preceding 3 years, Medicare will cover the exam annually. Payment will cover the full Pap-smear claim and 80% of the claim for the pelvic and clinical exams.
3. Colorectal cancer screening, including fecal occult blood tests, flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy for people at high risk, and barium enemas in certain cases.