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Cervical and Vaginal Cancer Screening (Pap Test, Pelvic Exam)

What it is

Cervical and vaginal cancers are cancers of the womb and birth canal. To check for these, your doctor will do a pelvic exam and look inside your cervix. He or she also will also take some cells from your cervix for a Pap test.

Why the screening is important

Regular pelvic exams and Pap tests help prevent these cancers. Your doctor can find abnormal changes in the cervix and vagina and treat you before cancer develops. Women who do not regularly have Pap tests have an increased risk of cervical cancer.

Who is covered

All women with Medicare are covered for this screening.

How often it is covered

The screening is generally covered once every 24 months. However, it is covered once every 12 months if you are at high risk of cervical or vaginal cancer OR if you are of childbearing age and have had an abnormal Pap test within the past 36 months. Ask your doctor how to get this screening.

What you pay

You pay nothing for cost of the Pap test, pelvic and breast exams if you have Original Medicare and you see a doctor who “accepts assignment.” Doctors who accept assignment agree to accept the amount that Medicare will pay for a visit or service (called the Medicare-approved amount) as payment in full.

If you are in a Medicare Advantage plan, the plan cannot charge you for this service as long as you see an “in-network” provider, meaning a doctor who has an agreement to treat people who belong to the plan. If you use a provider outside your plan's network, it may cost you money.

Note: You may have to pay for some costs in either Original Medicare or in a Medicare Advantage plan if your doctor does other tests or procedures during this visit that are not included as part of the service. Talk with your doctor.

Learn more about Cervical and Vaginal Cancer Screening on Medicare.gov.

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