Although skin cancer is relatively common and fairly easily treated when caught early enough, it’s still a serious health concern. Unlike other types of tissue cancer, skin cancer usually manifests itself as moles or other skin discolorations that can be outwardly identified as the disease progresses.
The danger, however, lies beneath these markings as cancer cells can travel throughout the body and metastasize to other areas via the circulatory system. In order to remove skin cancer, the most common form of treatment is to physically remove the cells via surgical excision; however, there are other options that are less invasive, including Mohs surgery.
What is Mohs Surgery?
Mohs surgery is the process of removing skin cancer by removing affected layers of skin until no cancer is left. This method is useful in treating large areas of skin affected by cancer or areas of the body that have irregular features and may suffer scarring or damage due to traditional surgical removal.
The real benefit to this type of surgery is that most procedures can completely remove cancer in one visit. This is because the removed tissue is examined in a lab at the time of surgery, allowing the surgeon to know fairly quickly whether all cancer has been taken care of or if additional layers of skin need to be removed.
Medicare Coverage for Mohs Surgery
When it comes to Medicare benefits, most skin surgery is considered cosmetic and is not covered; however, because Mohs surgery pertains directly to cancer treatment and the prevention of recurring cancer, this type of procedure is not considered cosmetic in nature, even if it means removing skin abnormalities. As a result, Mohs surgery is covered under Medicare Part B, the part of Medicare benefits that helps cover medically necessary outpatient procedures.
In order for Medicare to help cover the cost, the Mohs surgery will need to be ordered by a physician or specialist and deemed to be medically necessary to preserve life and improve health. Once again, skin surgery for cosmetic reasons is not a covered expense under Medicare, so Medicare recipients will not be able to receive coverage for removal of non-cancerous skin. The only way that this may be covered is if the skin being removed is suspected of being cancerous but turns out not to be after removal and examination.
Although Medicare Part B helps cover the costs pay of skin cancer removal for Medicare recipients, it is possible that Medicare Part A would provide coverage if someone undergoes Mohs surgery as part of an inpatient hospital stay or while being treated in a skilled nursing facility.
Medicare Part D provides coverage for prescription drugs and post-surgery medications that are ordered by a doctor to improve healing or prevention of infection as part of follow-up care. In some cases, a Medicare Advantage plan may offer additional benefits or discounts related to surgical procedures. To learn more, speak with your plan directly.
Skin Cancer Prevention
There are a number of ways to protect yourself and limit the development of skin cancer. Exposure to the sun or other sources of UV lighting is among the top reasons for the development of skin cancer, so limiting your time spent exposing your skin to ultra-violet rays is important.
If you need to be out in the sun for long periods of time, it’s important to guard exposed skin by using protective lotions and wearing protective clothing. Some people may be more susceptible to skin cancer due to genetic factors. If you are one of these individuals, you will want to talk to your doctor to determine the correct level of protection needed in a sun screen product.