One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives, according to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of Alabama.
For Alabama, that projection sits at approximately 4,500 women this year alone.
U.S. Sen. Katie Britt announced she’s working to make detection and diagnosis more accessible, more affordable, and ultimately, less stressful for women.
She recently joined U.S. Sen Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) in reintroducing the Access to Breast Cancer Diagnosis Act to eliminate copays and other out-of-pocket expenses for breast cancer diagnostic tests.
“The ability for women to receive an initial mammogram as part of their health insurance plan is a crucial, potentially lifesaving tool to detect breast cancer. This commonsense legislation would ensure that a warranted follow-up diagnostic examination is also covered by health insurers at no out-of-pocket cost to the patient,” Britt (R-Montgomery) said.
“No woman across America should be faced with the impossible choice between affording basic necessities such as food or being able to confirm whether she has a life-threatening illness.”
While current legislation mandates no-copay coverage for breast cancer screenings, diagnostic tests – crucial for a definitive diagnosis post initial screenings – aren’t afforded the same privilege.
If the initial screening shows that a patient may have breast cancer, further testing, including mammograms, MRIs, and ultrasounds, may be needed to make a diagnosis.
An estimated 10% of screening mammograms require follow-up diagnostic testing.
The Susan G. Komen Foundation, a leading research and patient advocacy organization for the causes and treatment of breast cancer, understands the problem, and commended the group of Senators for doing something about it.
“It is too hard and too expensive for people to get the breast imaging they require, a contributing factor to the nearly 44,000 breast cancer deaths expected this year alone,” Molly Guthrie, vice president of Policy and Advocacy at Susan G. Komen, said.
“We need this legislation passed as soon as possible so that people don’t face barriers to a timely diagnosis or face the impact of high out-of-pocket expenses for necessary imaging due to their personal circumstances,” she said. “Thank you to Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Katie Britt and Representatives Debbie Dingell and Brian Fitzpatrick for their leadership on this vital legislation.”
Susan G. Komen estimates that in 2023, more than 297,000 ew cases of invasive breast cancer will be detected in women across the United States. Additionally, a Susan G. Komen study estimated that diagnostic tests can cost patients between $234 and $1,041.
“I’m proud to help lead this effort to provide greater access to mammography so women can be diagnosed as soon as possible, giving them the widest variety of treatment options and the best chance to defeat this disease,” said Britt.
Grayson Everett is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @Grayson270