New State Law Removing Cost Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screenings Takes Effect January 1st

Timely and appropriate screenings can decrease colorectal cancer incidence and mortality

December 31, 2021

Sacramento, Calif. – December 31, 2021 – Beginning January 1st, a state law will remove out-of-pocket cost-sharing for patients needing a colonoscopy following a positive non-invasive screening test. The new law also aligns the age to begin these lifesaving screenings with United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) guidelines, currently at 45 years.

Colorectal cancer is one of the few cancers that can be prevented through screenings. There are several cost-efficient, non-invasive, easily accessible and safe preventive screening test options that can detect early signs of cancer – but a positive result would require a follow-up colonoscopy to remove any pre-cancerous polyps and prevent cancer from developing. Health plans often require enrollees to pay out-of-pocket cost-sharing for the follow-up colonoscopy after a positive stool-based test, which can be a deterrent for patients with limited income.

“Everyone should have access to colorectal cancer screenings and lifesaving treatment regardless of their income, race or zip code. Eliminating cost barriers will have a positive impact particularly among our rural communities and communities of color who experience higher colorectal cancer mortality rates,” said Autumn J. Ogden-Smith, California State Legislative Director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).

Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines

The American Cancer Society updated its guidelines in May 2018 recommending that adults at average risk for colorectal cancer start regular screening at 45 to save more lives, in part due to new data showing rates of colorectal cancer increasing in younger populations.

Colorectal Cancer Data and Background

Approximately 90 percent of all individuals diagnosed with colorectal cancer at an early stage are still alive five years later, meaning a colonoscopy can save a person’s life when a polyp is found and removed by stopping any cancer formation in its tracks.

Colorectal cancer rates are on the rise among young people and dropping among people age 65 and older. During the past 20 years, rates of colorectal cancer fell in people 50 and older, largely because more people were getting recommended screening tests. 

When compared to all other races and ethnicities, the prevalence of colorectal cancer screenings is lower among Asians and Hispanics. The incidence of colorectal cancer is highest among Black men and women, and the difference in mortality rate is even larger. Furthermore, Black individuals are being diagnosed with colorectal cancer at increasingly younger ages, and with more advanced disease.

For more information or to find the nearest screening options, go to or call 1-800-227-2345.

Media Contacts

Priscilla Cabral-Perez
Sr. Regional Media Advocacy Manager
Los Angeles