In 2013, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended that most
women only need cervical cancer screenings every three years after evidence indicated
no added benefit to annual screenings.This change is supported by a broad coalition
of medical specialty societies, including the American Cancer Society, the American
College of Physicians and the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Starting in January 2017, all Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield members will need to follow the new cervical screening guidelines, unless noted below.
These recommendations do not apply to women who:
In these situations the test would be considered diagnostic and would not be covered
under preventive services.
Absolutely. There is no treatment for HPV infections except time; the body clears
up most HPV infections in eight to 24 months, so more frequent screenings would
not help eradicate an infection.
The real concern is cervical cancer, which can take 10 to 12 years to develop. This
means regular screenings according to the new schedule allow for ample time to detect
Our coverage policy regarding these screenings changed on January 1, 2016, and our
coverage will change on January 1, 2017.
If you are between the ages of 21-65 and received a Pap test as a screening service
in 2015, you will not have 100 percent preventive coverage of another screening
until three years have passed. If a doctor thinks a test is needed for health reasons,
it will be covered as a diagnostic test (not a screening), which may require a copayment.
If you had a Pap test last year you won’t have coverage for screening purposes for
three years from the time of your last screening.
Many doctors began switching patients to this schedule in 2013 when the recommendation
was announced by the USPSTF. Arkansas Blue Cross reviewed the information from the
USPSTF thoroughly before determining that our coverage policy should reflect the
Cervical cancer can take 10 to 12 years to develop. This testing schedule allows
for early detection and minimizes unnecessary tests. In more than 90 percent of
women with HPV, the infection will clear up on its own over eight to 24 months.
Screening women too young, too frequently or beyond a certain age does not improve
the prevention of cervical cancer. Too many screenings exposes women who have an
average risk and are without symptoms to the recognized harms of inappropriate screening:
The USPSTF is an independent, volunteer panel of national experts that make evidence-based
recommendations about clinical preventive services such as screenings, counseling
services and preventive medications. Visit uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org for
Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield is an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and is licensed to offer health plans in all 75 counties of Arkansas.
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