Background: Lung cancer screening (LCS) is an important secondary prevention measure to reduce lung cancer mortality. The goal of this study was to assess state-level variations in LCS among the US elderly during the first 3 years since Medicare began its LCS reimbursement policy in 2015. Methods: This ecological study examined the relations between LCS utilization density, defined as the number of low-dose CT (LDCT) or shared decision-making and counseling (SDMC) services per 1,000 Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) beneficiaries derived from the Medicare Provider Utilization and Payment Data: Physician and Other Supplier public use file, and state-level factors from several publicly available data sources. The study included Kruskal-Wallis tests and a cluster analysis. Results: In 2017, the median utilization density per 1,000 Medicare FFS beneficiaries was 3.32 for LDCT and 0.46 for SDMC, which was 24 and 13 times the 2015 level, respectively. From 2015 to 2017, the total number of unique providers billed for LCS increased from 222 to 3,444 for LDCT imaging and from 20 to 523 for SDMC. Higher utilizations for both LDCT and SDMC services tended to concentrate in the northeastern and upper Midwest states than in the southwest states. The cluster of states with high utilization density did not include those states with the most lung cancer mortality and/or smoking prevalence. Conclusions: A steady increase was noted in LCS utilization since Medicare began its reimbursement policy. The utilization and its growth varied across the United States and differed between LDCT imaging and SDMC, indicating large growth potentials for LCS and for states with high lung cancer mortality and smoking prevalence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1012-1020
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • Medicare
  • geographic variations
  • low-dose CT
  • lung cancer screening
  • shared decision-making and counseling


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