Low-Dose CT Scan for Lung Cancer Screening: Clinical and Coding Considerations

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Lung cancer screening with low-dose CT (LDCT) scan was shown to reduce lung cancer mortality in the National Lung Screening Trial, a large randomized controlled trial of high-risk current and former smokers. Despite ongoing uncertainty over the effectiveness of LDCT scan in the real-world setting, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) decided to cover LDCT scan as a preventive service. As part of its National Coverage Determination, CMS set forth a series of requirements for reimbursement of LDCT scan, including a counseling and shared decision-making visit prior to a LDCT scan being ordered. During this visit, providers must determine patient eligibility, engage in shared decision-making around LDCT scan, discuss the importance of adherence to screening, and provide smoking cessation counseling (if applicable). Two new billing codes were introduced for the counseling and shared decision-making visit and subsequent LDCT scan. In this review, we summarize the evidence around lung cancer screening and describe practical aspects of the counseling and shared decision-making, including billing considerations. We conclude with a discussion of the greater implications of CMS National Coverage Determination, especially as it pertains to quality assurance around new screening tests.

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