Medicare will keep paying for heart CT scans

Medicare has agreed to continue paying for heart CT scans, despite earlier grumblings that there wasn't enough clinical evidence that they were effective enough to justify the extra costs. Heart CT scans--including the lightning fast 64-slice CT, which can complete heart imaging in 30 seconds--may be nifty, but they cost at least $600 more than the angiography procedure typically used to test for heart problems.

About 70,000 of these scans were paid for by Medicare in 2006, which spent $40 million to $50 million on the tests. Recently, Medicare toyed with the idea of not paying for these claims, though most of the local insurance carriers it uses as administrators were already paying for the test. Now, it's agreed to leave things as they are. Given Medicare's influential status, this likely means that commercial insurers keep paying for them, too, despite a huge and costly growth in demand.

To learn more about this issue:
- read this article in The New York Times

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