Insurers would have to cover the cost of colorectal screenings for those 50 and older or younger persons considered high risk under a bill in Madison. At a Senate Health and Health Insurance Committee hearing Tuesday, UW Professor of Radiology Dr. Perry Pickhardt testified in support saying colorectal cancer is highly preventable. The process involves detecting and eliminating pre-cancerous polyps. This differs from other major cancers like breast and lung in which tests can only discover cancerous cells.

Pickhardt adds a conventional colonoscopy is around $1500, $500 for a virtual version, compared to chemotherapy for colorectal cancer at $200,000 a UW patient.

A man testified he was denied by his insurance company four years ago of having a routine colonoscopy because he did not have any symptoms. Chet Waldhart did not get the procedure because of the out of pocket cost. He came down with stage four, incurable colorectal cancer last year. Physicians have since told him that four years ago the disease would’ve been caught and treated much more easily than the extensive chemotherapy and surgery he’s since undergone.

State Senator Bob Wirch (D-Pleasant Prarie), who introduced the measure, cited numbers by the American Cancer Society in which the 52,000 Americans expected to die from the disease each year, more than half could be saved through proper testing.

Colorectal Cancer is the second leading cancer killer in Wisconsin.

AUDIO: Chet Waldhart’s testimony (MP3 5:21)

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