Urges Bipartisan Support and Swift Passage, Allowing Women Access to Life-Saving Diagnostic Exams
Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, applauds Senator Lori Berman (D-Boynton Beach) for her leadership on vitally important diagnostic breast imaging legislation. SB 1052 would eliminate out-of-pocket costs for medically necessary diagnostic breast imaging following an abnormal mammogram result or other medically necessary purposes.
“We are so pleased that this life-saving legislation has been re-introduced in Florida,” said Molly Guthrie, Senior Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at Susan G. Komen. “Unfortunately, we often hear stories from patients and their loved ones about being unable to access needed diagnostic imaging due to the high out-of-pocket costs. As a result, many do not seek care until the cancer has spread – making it deadlier and much more expensive to treat.”
Millions of people throughout the United States can access free, preventive screening mammography under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, if the results of a mammogram reveal an abnormality, follow-up diagnostic exams (such as an MRI, ultrasound, diagnostic mammogram) are needed to determine if the patient has breast cancer. Those exams can be extremely expensive and require high out-of-pocket costs – all before treatment even begins. An estimated 12 percent of patients who receive annual screening mammograms get called back for diagnostic imaging. In Florida, 20,160 women are estimated to be diagnosed with breast cancer and 3,120 will die of the disease this year alone.
“As a six-year breast cancer survivor myself, I am living proof that early diagnosis and treatment saves lives. My mammogram revealed a mass that subsequent diagnostic testing determined was breast cancer. I cannot describe how terrifying it was to learn of the news,” said Senator Berman. “Thankfully, I had adequate health coverage and was able to get an early diagnosis and quickly begin treatment. Sadly, many people do not have the same opportunity. I am proud to sponsor Senate Bill 1052, which would ensure access to life-saving diagnostic testing and treatment. It is time to shine a light on this very serious issue and take action.”
A Komen-commissioned study found the costs to patients for diagnostic tests range from $234 for a diagnostic mammogram to $1,021 for a breast MRI. Out-of-pocket costs are particularly burdensome to those who have previously been diagnosed with breast cancer, as diagnostic tests are often recommended rather than traditional screening mammography.
“It is unacceptable that people must pay hundreds to thousands of dollars, out of pocket, to determine if they have breast cancer. People are struggling right now to afford basic care and will forego pricey additional testing simply because of the cost. This legislation will help make detection more affordable and accessible so that breast cancers are caught early, and more lives can be saved,” Guthrie said.