Medicare Will Pay for Alzheimer's Scan

As you can read below, MediCare will soon start to pay for expensive PET scans for inidividuals with memory loss in certain cases. The cost is very high, and there is a risk of excess radiation exposure, suggesting that individuals pursue other means of getting a check up before turning to MRI or PET.

Doubts About Technology Lead Agency to Cover Only Some Patients

By Rick Weiss and David Brown
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, September 17, 2004; Page A02

Medicare will start paying for specialized brain scans in some patients to help determine if they have Alzheimer's disease, the federal agency that runs the reimbursement program announced yesterday.

The decision caps a four-year struggle by makers of the technology -- known as positron emission tomography, or PET -- to gain approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for PET's use in patients suspected of having Alzheimer's disease.

But in the absence of convincing evidence that PET scans can, by themselves, tell whether a person has Alzheimer's, the agency settled on a much narrower application. It will reimburse for the brain scans only for patients whose Alzheimer's symptoms are not typical and who doctors believe may instead have one of several rare brain diseases known collectively as "fronto-temporal dementia

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