FACT SHEET:
PAPANICOLAOU SMEARS

Ontario Health Insurance Plan
What does OHIP cover?

OHIP covers one normal Papanicolaou (or Pap) smear per year. When the results are not normal, follow-up Pap smears at more frequent intervals are also covered by OHIP. In addition, Pap smears that are included in the consultation or assessment fee will continue to be covered.

What is not covered?

Beginning on July 1, 1998, OHIP will no longer pay for repeated screening Pap smears within one year for healthy patients at low risk for cervical cancer. Only the first one will be reimbursed. Physicians sometimes include a Pap smear as part of a different billing, i.e., consultation or assessment, and that is not affected.

Why?

Pap smears are a screening test for cervical cancer. Like many other forms of cancer, annual screening is recommended for certain age groups because early detection and treatment are important.

Screening more frequently than once annually has not been shown to improve the rate of early detection, except for patients with a preceding abnormal smear or other risk factor. Repeated in-year normal pap smears are therefore not medically necessary.

While only a small percentage of women are receiving pap tests more often than necessary, in fact a large number of women do not receive adequate testing according to guidelines. Check with your doctor and make sure you are receiving this life-saving test at regular intervals.


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Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
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