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The Colorectal Cancer Alliance launched the Op45 advocacy campaign to speed insurance coverage of colorectal cancer (CRC) screening at 45. The effort seizes on the May 2020 United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendation that CRC screenings begin by age 45 for those at average risk.

The Affordable Care Act requires almost all private health insurance plans to cover USPSTF-recommended screening at no cost to patients. Unfortunately, many plans don’t have to comply until 2023. 

That’s too long of a wait for people ages 45 to 49. We want insurance companies to cover life-saving screening now. 

This is how we are making change (and how you can help):

  • Many dozens of advocates have made calls to their insurance companies asking about coverage at 45. This not only applied some early pressure, but it gave us very useful data to identify early targets of the campaign. Call your insurance company using this script today!

  • We’ve also launched a social media campaign to apply public pressure to these companies. Use this toolkit to engage with your insurance company on social media

  • We are planning a news media campaign to show the impact earlier screening could make. We know our stories can change hearts and minds. If screening at 45-49 would have helped you or a loved one, share your story here.

  • We’ve trained about 100 advocates on Op45 organizing during our annual Allies in Action event. Join our volunteers here

We’ve made great strides. With advocate support, we’re monitoring nearly 60 companies — the largest ones and the ones with which we have direct relationships. Sadly, at the beginning of the campaign, our data suggested less than 50% of the newly screenable population had coverage. Now, almost 90% of these companies cover screening at 45. But we aren’t done yet. There are about 1,000 insurance companies out there and we want all of them to cover screenings at 45. 

We’re also employing some behind-the-scenes tactics: 

  • Staff and close partners have met with insurance company executives to campaign quietly behind the scenes, yielding great results. 

  • We are collecting signatures from organizations in the cancer community for a letter to insurance companies. In it, we urge insurers to either adopt the younger screening age or announce their already improved coverage by March 1, 2022. The Alliance will share the letter with insurance companies in the new year. The letter notes the incredible burden shared by young-onset colorectal cancer patients:

“The implementation of this new guideline is particularly urgent because the rate of colorectal cancer for adults younger than 50 has more than doubled since the 1990s. People ages 45-49 have the highest incidence rates within the young-onset population. Additionally, young people are disproportionately diagnosed at later stages than their older peers.”

We hope the letter will help speed progress with remaining payers and also believe the early leadership of several market leaders will set an important example in the field. We applaud the early leadership of plans with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, which has a deep and growing roster of plans covering at 45, going back years. One of our early targets, UnitedHealthcare, began covering at 45 in October, immediately benefitting an estimated 2.5 million people.

Please support Op45 with the gift of your own voice. We need your advocacy to ensure coverage for all those newly screenable. We know all too well why tomorrow can’t wait.



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