Long-term heavy smokers aged between 54 and 74 are eligible for National Health Insurance-covered lung cancer screenings, starting from Monday.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare said Tuesday that individuals aged 54-74 with a smoking history of at least 30 pack-years can test for lung cancer under a state health plan every two years. A pack-year is equivalent to tobacco intake of one pack of 20 cigarettes per day over a one-year period.
The screening will cost the examinee 10,000 won ($8.50), with the remaining 100,000 won expense of the low-dose computed tomography scan covered by insurance. The bottom half of state health insurance payers are exempt from the fee.
The ministry expects some 330,000 smokers to be eligible for this year’s screening, which applies to those born in odd-number years.
The Health Ministry’s disease policy division chief Kim Ki-nam said the screening is aimed at early detection and treatment of lung cancer, which has the highest reported fatality rate of all cancers in Korea.
According to government data, tobacco use is linked to about 90 percent of all lung cancers, with smokers 11 times more likely to develop lung cancer than nonsmokers.
The lung cancer screening program will also include eight to 12 weeks of smoking cessation counseling, the ministry said.
There are 230 facilities designated for the lung cancer screening across the country as of July. The list of institutions can be found on the National Health Insurance Service’s webpage at http://hi.nhis.or.kr
By Kim Arin (firstname.lastname@example.org