Sunday, February 18, 2024

Does Medicare Cover Chemo And Radiation

Is Radiation Therapy The Same Thing As Chemotherapy

Medicare and Chemotherapy – Cancer and Medicare Coverage – Does Medicare Cover Cancer Treatments?

No, while both are used to fight cancer, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are two different treatments. Radiation therapy uses radiation to shrink or kill cancerous cells and tumors. Chemotherapy has the same goal but uses medications and chemicals to do it. Unlike radiation therapy, chemotherapy is often less targeted, causing the medication to spread throughout the body. This can make the side effects more widely felt.

Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are often used together to treat some kinds of cancer.

Medicare Advantage: Coinsurance And Deductibles

Under Medicare Advantage, youll get the same services as Medicare Part A and B however, you have access to more benefits. Coinsurance comes into play, too.

Instead of waiting for a deductible, Medicare Advantage will ask for 20 percent from you while paying the other 80 percent. Once you reach the deductible limit, Medicare will begin paying 100 percent of the treatment.

What About The Medicare Advantage Give Back Benefit

The give-back benefit allows some Medicare Advantage plans to offer plan members a rebate on their monthly Medicare Part B premium. Beneficiaries with a give-back plan receive the benefit through Social Security. No direct payments are allowed.

The technical term for the benefit is Medicare Part B premium reduction. When you enroll in one of these plans, the insurance carrier pays some or all of your premium. In the evidence of coverage document the plan is required to provide, you will find a section titled Part B Premium Buy-Down. This is where you will find the amount the plan contributed towards your Part B premium.

Plans with a give-back benefit are becoming more popular, but they are still not widespread. The largest companies offering these plans include Aetna, Cigna, and Humana. Give-back amounts range from as little as $.10 to as much as the full, standard Part B premium.

If you pay your own Part B premium you are eligible for a give-back plan. If you have full or partial Medicaid, including aid through a Medicare Savings Program, you are not eligible.

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How Much Are Chemo And Radiation Treatments

According to and The Mesothelioma Center, the average monthly rate for chemo is $1,000 to $12,000 per month. Radiation therapy costs vary. Lets look at a list of radiotherapy costs.

Radiotherapy Costs

Imagine the cost of chemo and radiation before you reach your deductible. You may end up paying hundreds or thousands of dollars. Fortunately, Medicare provides coverage and various alternatives.

Like Most Health Insurance Medicare Covers A Variety Of Cancer Treatments Including Radiation Therapy

Does Medicare Cover Cancer Treatment (And Meds)

Medicare covers radiation therapy as well as a variety of cancer treatments and screenings. Most of these services are included with your Medicare Part B benefits. However, some cancer treatments, such as surgery to remove a tumor, are covered by Medicare Part A.

As with most Medicare coverage, the first question is whether a treatment is deemed medically necessary by your healthcare provider. Then, determining which part of Medicare applies usually depends on whether the service is inpatient or outpatient.

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What Are Part D Chemotherapy Costs

Chemotherapy can also be an effective solution when taken in other forms like pills and creams. If your doctor prescribes you chemotherapy to take at home, Medicare Part D will come into play. Part D is prescription drug coverage from private insurers. Because of this, each Part D plan can have different pricing. Most plans require you to pay a premium each month, as well as out-of-pocket copays to your pharmacist.

To help you figure out how much you may have to pay for your chemotherapy with Part D, take a look at your plans drug tiers. Health insurance companies classify the types and costs of prescription drugs with this system. The system determines how much of the price they will pick up and how much youll end up paying. Your prescription drug tier will have a dramatic effect on how much youll end up paying for your chemotherapy.

When Can I Purchase A Medigap Plan

You have a six-month window to enroll in Medicare Supplement Insurance after you turn 65 and enroll in Medicare Part B. It is known as Medigap Open Enrollment, and you can sign up for any Medigap plan offered in your state. If you enroll during this window, the carrier cant deny coverage due to any pre-existing conditions. Medicare beneficiaries generally get their lowest rates during this period.

If you want to add Medigap later, your options may be limited youll typically pay more and be subject to medical underwriting, where you answer questions related to your health. At this time, Medigap providers are able to deny coverage because of past or current health conditions.

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Do Medicare Supplement Plans Pay For Cancer Treatment Drugs

Medicare Supplement Plans generally only pay your share of covered costs under Part A and Part B. Generally if Medicare Part A or Part B covers your cancer treatment drug, so will your Medicare Supplement Plan. Most chemotherapy drugs and medications you receive in a doctorâs office or infusion clinic are generally covered by Medicare Part B. Medicare Part A generally covers prescription medications you take while you are an inpatient in the hospital.

Medicare Supplement Plans typically do not, however, pay for other prescription medications you take at home to treat your cancer symptoms or treatment side effects. Your Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan should cover most of these medications. Keep in mind that Medicare Supplement Plans generally do not cover any out-of-pocket costs associated with Part D coverage for prescription drugs.

To look for a Medicare Supplement plan in your area, enter your zip code on this page.

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Appealing Medicares Decisions Regarding Cancer Coverage

Cancer and Medicare Coverage – Does Medicare Cover Cancer Treatments?

You have the right to file an appeal in the event that Medicare does not reimburse a healthcare provider or service for something that you feel should be covered. That goes for whether youve already received the service or item, or if you believe that you should be eligible to receive it.

There are five levels to the appeals process that give you the opportunity to take your appeal all of the way to a judicial review by a federal district judge if you disagree with the decision made at any stage.

The exact process you will follow to go through this process depends on which type of Medicare plan you have. Also, if you need help with filing your appeal, you can either appoint a representative to help you or contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program.

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How Much Does Medicare Pay For Radiation Treatments

Medicare Part A covers radiation therapy you receive as a hospital inpatient. Medicare Part B covers it if you receive radiation therapy as an outpatient in a freestanding clinic or other Medicare-approved facility that provides the therapy.

Radiation therapy uses X-rays or similar forms of radiation to treat cancer. The radiation makes small breaks in the DNA inside cancer cells.

The breaks keep the cancer cells from dividing and growing. In successful radiation therapy, the cancer cells die. The therapy can also affect nearby normal cells, but most of those recover.

Your Costs for Radiation Therapy with Original Medicare

Inpatient Radiation Therapy
You pay the Medicare Part A deductible $1,600 in 2023 and any applicable coinsurance, usually a percentage of the Medicare-approved cost of the treatment.
Outpatient Radiation Therapy
You will have to meet your Medicare Part B deductible $226 in 2023 plus your copayment.
Radiation Therapy at a Freestanding Clinic
You have to meet your Medicare Part B deductible and 20% of the Medicare-approved cost of treatment. Medicare pays the other 80% after meeting your deductible.

The Importance Of Prescription Drug Coverage

In the event Medicare Part B does not cover the cancer drugs needed for chemotherapy, Medicare Part D may provide coverage. However, there are certain medications that may not be covered under Part D.

Because chemotherapy is an aggressive treatment, it can also hurt healthy cells in the process of destroying cancer cells. This healthy cell damage is what is associated with common side effects of chemotherapy, including nausea, fatigue, and headaches. As such, other medications may be necessary, such as anti-nausea drugs and pain medication.

Note: Medicare beneficiaries must be enrolled in Part D or have an MA plan that contains Part D. It is important to remember that Medicare beneficiaries are not automatically enrolled in a prescription drug plan.

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Medicare Coverage For Cancer Treatments

Home / FAQs / Medicare Coverage / Medicare Coverage for Cancer Treatments

Medicare cancer coverage is a concern for beneficiaries. More than 4,500 people get a cancer diagnosis in the U.S. daily, according to the American Cancer Society. The good news is that Medicare does cover cancer treatment. If you have a Part D prescription drug plan and a comprehensive Medigap plan, most of your treatment has 100% coverage. Here are the facts on Medicare coverage for cancer treatments.

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Medicare Costs To Know

Medicare Coverage of Cancer Treatment

Fighting cancer and living as a survivor can be a long road. Along the way, youll come across several different Medicare costs youll have to pay. Understanding these costs can help you build a budget and get the most out of your treatment plan. Here are the charges youll want to know:

  • Deductible: The amount you need to pay before Medicare will pay its portion. There are separate deductibles for Part A, Part B and Part D.
  • Premium: the monthly fee you pay for your policy. Medicare Parts A, B and D all have monthly premiums that vary based on your situation. Some insurance companies offer $0 Medicare Advantage plans.
  • Copayment: is a flat-rate that has been agreed upon by the insurance company and healthcare provider for medical services. You typically pay the copay out of pocket to your doctor or provider.
  • Coinsurance: The percentage you pay for medical services after youve met your deductible. Generally, coinsurance for Original Medicare is 20% of the approved costs.

Heres how these terms apply to Medicare and chemotherapy:

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Medicare Cost For Cancer Treatments

You will be required to pay any copayments, coinsurance or deductibles that apply for each service, test or item you receive, though the exact costs vary on a number of factors including:

  • Whether or not doctor or provider accepts assignment
  • The type of the facility
  • Other insurance you may have
  • The location you get the test, item or service

In 2022, your Part B deductible is $233.

Depending on your situation, your doctor may recommend services or items that are not covered by Medicare, or more often than what Medicare covers. In this case, youd have to pay some or all of the costs out of pocket.

Some items Medicare does not cover, therefore you will have to pay completely out of pocket, include:

  • Room and board in assisted living facilities
  • Medical food or nutritional supplements
  • Services that help you with activities of daily living

Chemotherapy costs vary depending on whether you take the drugs orally, through an IV, or via an injection. If you receive chemo under Part B in a hospital outpatient setting, youll pay a copayment. If its given in a doctors office or freestanding clinic, you pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount, and your Part B deductible applies.

Does Medicare Advantage Cover Cancer Screenings And Treatments

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, the plan must still provide at the least the same coverage as Original Medicare but it could have different rules and costs. If you have cancer and a Medicare Advantage plan be sure to check with your plan provider to understand what the rules and costs may be for screenings, chemotherapy, radiation and other related services or items needed for your treatment.

Different parts of Medicare can help cover the various screenings, treatments and prescription drugs you may need as part of your cancer treatment plan. Make sure to always read your coverage details carefully so you understand what is covered, how and where youll need to receive treatments, and what your costs will be.

For further information related to how Medicare works for cancer-related health services, tests and treatments, please see the various reference sources listed below.

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What Are Your Cancer Treatment Options

Cancer treatment is highly individualized. Several types of doctors work together to come up with a treatment plan that addresses your needs. A comprehensive cancer treatment plan will include one or more of the following types of treatments, all of which can be covered by Medicare.

  • Surgery. Surgery may be recommended for removing cancerous tumors.
  • Chemotherapy.Chemotherapy involves chemicals given orally or intravenously to kill cancer cells and stop cancer from spreading.
  • Radiation.Radiation therapy uses intense beams of energy to kill cancer cells.
  • Hormone therapy.Hormone therapy uses synthetic hormone and hormone blockers to target cancers that use hormones to grow.
  • Immunotherapy.Immunotherapy drugs use your bodys immune system to attack cancer cells.
  • Genetic therapy. These newer therapies typically deliver a virus to a cancer cell that will target and help destroy it.

One kind of cancer treatment that isnt covered by Medicare is alternative or holistic therapy. These treatments, which can include dietary changes, supplements, oils, and natural extracts, are not part of Medicares cancer coverage.

Does Medicare Cover Radiation For Cancer Treatment

Will Medicare and Medigap Pay For My Cancer Treatment?

Radiation in small doses can be used in x-rays, such as x-rays of your teeth. Radiation in high doses can kill cancer cells and shrink tumors, according to NIH. Radiation cancer treatment damages the DNA of cancer cells, making them unable to divide and killing them. External beam radiation therapy treats a specific part of your body. Internal radiation therapy could be a local treatment or systemic therapy, traveling in the blood to tissues throughout the body. Medicare Part A generally covers radiation cancer treatment for hospital inpatients. Medicare Part B covers radiation therapy for outpatients of patients in freestanding clinics. Medicare Advantage plans also generally cover radiation.

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When Cant A Medicare Advantage Plan Deny Coverage Or Charge Extra Fees

If youre eligible for Medicare, and you want to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, heres some good information to know. A Medicare Advantage plan cant deny you coverage if you have a health problem. Thats assuming that you live within the plans service area and are enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B when you apply for the plan.

  • Generally, Medicare Advantage plans cant refuse to cover your medical services once youre enrolled, as long as you follow plan rules. For example, the plan typically cant deny coverage of your health condition.
  • In most cases, Medicare Advantage plans cant charge you more than Original Medicare would cost you for certain services, such as skilled nursing facility care, dialysis, or chemotherapy.
  • If a plan has agreed to treat you through an advanced determination of coverage, the plan cant decide later to deny you coverage if it finds that your condition isnt medically necessary.

What if you have end-stage renal disease ?

Beginning January 1, 2021, people with ESRD can enroll in Medicare Advantage plans. End-stage renal disease is permanent kidney failure requiring regular dialysis or a kidney transplant.

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Does Medicare Cover Lung Cancer

Medicare covers many services for lung cancer, but costs can still add up. A 2018 study in Cancer Medicine looked at the amount people on Medicare spent for lung cancer at different stages.

During the screening and diagnostic phase, the average spent was $861. Chemotherapy and radiation costs averaged $4,242 to $8,287 per month over the first six months of care. The average cost of surgery, if pursued, was $30,096. This analysis, again, did not include the cost of more expensive immunotherapies.

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Which Medicare Parts Cover Chemotherapy

Medicare parts A, B, or D may provide coverage. Part A covers oral and IV chemotherapy when a person receives it as an inpatient in a hospital.

Part B pays for some oral chemotherapy medications. It may also cover IV chemotherapy that a person receives in a doctorâs office or freestanding clinic. Copayment and coinsurance costs may apply.

Part D, which provides prescription drug coverage, may cover some chemotherapy medications that Part B does not. A person should check their providerâs list of covered medications for more information.

So How Does Medicare Cover Cancer Treatment A Summary


With all of this information, it may be a good idea to summarize just how Medicare fully covers a beneficiaries treatment for Cancer related issues. Medicare parts A, B, C, and D can work together to provide coverage for different parts of cancer treatment.

Medicare Part A covers eligible cancer procedures where a beneficiary is at an inpatient hospital stay. For example, it can cover:

  • inpatient chemotherapy
  • inpatient stays for cancer related surgery
  • skilled nursing facility care
  • home healthcare
  • post- mastectomy breast prostheses
  • outpatient surgery for cancer related issues
  • durable medical equipment
  • tests that diagnose cancer treatment
  • equipment such as feeding tubes or pumps
  • post- mastectomy external breast prostheses
  • doctorâs office visits

If a beneficiary has Medicare Advantage , they will have the same coverage as a beneficiary with original Medicare (Part A and Part B.

Medicare Advantage plans also bundle Part D into their coverage to cover the cost of prescription medications. If Medicare Part B does not cover a prescription drug and a beneficiary has Medicare Part D, this may cover the costs.

Additionally, Medicare Part D can cover medications that treat cancer treatment side effects, like antinausea medications.

This information is not a complete description of benefits. Contact the plan for more information. Limitations, copayments, and restrictions may apply. Benefits, premiums and/or copayments/co-insurance may change on January 1 of each year.

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