Join us Thursday for a live coronavirus town hall on omicron, looking ahead and the impact on nursing homes. Find out more.
En español | If you have Medicare, you should not have to pay for a preventive colonoscopy. How often you can have the procedure covered depends on your health circumstances.
If you are at high risk for colorectal cancer, Medicare will cover the full cost of a colonoscopy once every two years. If you are not at high risk, it will pay for the screening once every 10 years, or four years after you have undergone a flexible sigmoidoscopy, a similar procedure that does not probe the entire colon.
Original Medicare pays the full cost of a colonoscopy if a medical provider who accepts Medicare rates does the procedure.
However, if a polyp is found and removed during the colonoscopy, the procedure is considered diagnostic rather than preventive and you likely will owe 20 percent of the Medicare-approved fee. Medicare Advantage plans cover the test under similar terms if a doctor in the plan’s network handles it.
The Medicare Part B deductible does not apply to colonoscopies. Medicare will pay its share whether or not you’ve met your deductible for the year.
If your doctor recommends you have a colonoscopy more often than Medicare normally covers, you may have to pay some or all of the cost. Ask your doctor why he or she is recommending the test and whether Medicare will pay for it.
Medicare pays for more frequent colonoscopies for people at high risk of developing colorectal cancer.
According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, that means someone meets one or more of these criteria.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on July 17, 2015. It has been updated with the latest information regarding Medicare coverage in 2020.
Return to Medicare Q&A main page
Find the content you are looking for by entering in search terms below.
Visit the AARP state page for information about events, news and resources near you.
You are leaving AARP.org and going to the website of our trusted provider. The provider’s terms, conditions and policies apply. Please return to AARP.org to learn more about other benefits.
Your email address is now confirmed.
You'll start receiving the latest news, benefits, events, and programs related to AARP's mission to empower people to choose how they live as they age.
You can also manage your communication preferences by updating your account at anytime. You will be asked to register or log in.
In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails
related to AARP volunteering. Once you confirm that subscription, you will regularly
receive communications related to AARP volunteering. In the meantime, please feel free
to search for ways to make a difference in your community at