The U.S. government is set to decide this month whether federal health insurance should cover the cost of a $3,000 test that for the first time accurately identifies the signature brain plaques of Alzheimer’s disease.

A lot is riding on the decision. Those in favor of coverage say the brain scan will reduce anguish and lower medical costs for families struggling to determine appropriate care for a relative suffering from memory loss. What’s more, the test could help create a broad base of early Alzheimer’s patients for research purposes, they say. Opponents counter that coverage would be a waste of money because Alzheimer’s remains an incurable disease and knowing whether a person has the disease is of little or no benefit.

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