The key to treating skin cancer is finding it early. If detected early, there are many more treatment options available. And even better of course is to prevent it from ever happening. Although that’s difficult, regular screenings will help.
“Skin cancer is now the most common cancer for young people. That sounds alarming, and it is. If we look back a few decades, skin cancer rates have been climbing steadily – and there is no stopping it soon.”
The above was written on our previous blog post. So if you read that, and think of prevention and early detection – it makes sense that skin cancer screenings are a big part of todays health system. Unfortunately that is not always the case. Let’s take a look at the current situation of skin cancer screenings and how they are paid for; are these screenings being covered by insurance?
First off: what is a skin cancer screening exactly?
A skin cancer screening is a visual inspection of your skin by a medical professional. They will go over your body in search for spots or moles that might look suspicious. In most cases, no blood work is taken at a skin cancer screening.
Screenings in the US
In the US, 1 in 5 gets skin cancer during their lifetime. Therefore prevention and early detection is very important. In the US the American Association of Dermatology is offering so called SpotMe screenings; these are skin cancer screenings free of charge. Board certified dermatologists are part of this program.
However, this is part of your health insurance. That means you will need to contact your health insurance company to find out if and how your medical benefits apply to skin cancer screening and dermatologist visits.
If you are not insured, there are still options. Read more here to find out what you can do.
Screenings in Europe
In Europe, there is no general policy on skin cancer screenings at this moment. That means that every country has it’s own regulation.
A positive trend is seen in Germany for example. Here, everyone above 30 is offered a free skin cancer screening every 2 years. Sad to say is that only 30% of the population takes advantage of this, although the cost is completely covered by health insurance.
On the other hand, a country like the UK which has a major risk population – has no screening program at this moment. People from the UK have to visit private clinics for these screenings. Using self-check technology like SkinVision will enable people to perform regular first checks from home, before being urged to see a doctor in case of risk indication.
Another policy is found in The Netherlands, where once year multiple hospitals and clinics work together to offer free screenings outside of insurance. Although covered GP visits are available to check spots that people worry about.
New Zealand & Australia
Two other important countries to mention are New Zealand and Australia. An incidence of skin cancer is seen in 1 in 3 people who get it during their lifetime. So what about skin cancer screenings in those countries?
New Zealand does not have a free program in place at this point. When this was addressed earlier, awareness organisation Melanoma NZ made a public comment on it. While the leading mole map company in New Zealand charges up to $380 dollars for a full examination, Melanoma New Zealand says a cheaper option is to get your GP to refer you to public health care.
Australia shows a similar situation. On the site of Cancer.org.au it is mentioned that “There is currently no formal screening program for skin cancers. It is recommended that people become familiar with their skin. If you notice any changes consult your doctor.”
Self-check on a regular basis
The lack of national screening programs makes it difficult to prevent skin cancer. Although people are being more educated on skin cancer risks and causes in certain countries, finding skin cancer cases early is mostly a responsibility of the people themselves.
Apps like SkinVision can help. When downloading the app, up to 5 free assessments can be made for risk indication. Download it here: https://skinvision.com/#download