Urges Bipartisan Support and Swift Passage, Providing Women Access to Life-Saving Diagnostic Exams
Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, applauds Representative Thomas Golden, Jr. (D-Lowell) and Senator Mike Rush (D-Boston) for their leadership on vitally important diagnostic breast imaging legislation. The legislation, H.1100/S.726, would eliminate out-of-pocket costs for medically necessary diagnostic breast imaging following an abnormal mammogram result or other medically necessary purpose.
“This legislation is an important step forward for women in Massachusetts,” said Molly Guthrie, Senior Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at Susan G. Komen. “We see first-hand that women face hundreds to thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs for needed diagnostic imaging. As a result, many women do not seek care until the cancer has spread — making it deadlier and more expensive to treat. A woman should not have to choose between paying her electric bill or getting a medically necessary ultrasound. This life-saving legislation will ensure timely access to diagnosis and treatment.”
Added Representative Golden, “H.1100 will provide timely diagnoses and treatments to our patients in Massachusetts. No one should have to choose between keeping up with their health and keeping up with their daily expenses. Traversing the prospect of a breast cancer diagnosis is a traumatic enough experience without the additional burden of steep out-of-pocket costs or vital follow-up testing and I’m happy to sponsor this important bill for the residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”
Millions of women 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 Massachusetts, 6,650 women are estimated to be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021 and 780 will die of the disease this year alone.
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.
“The cost of diagnostic imaging to screen for breast cancer creates an additional financial burden to those diagnosed with breast cancer and is a result in many undetected cancers,” said Senator Rush. “This important piece of legislation will provide coverage for diagnostic imagining, resulting in awareness and early detection, leading to better health and lower costs for patients and families.”