Thousands of Minnesotans Would Benefit by Removing Barriers to Required Breast Imaging
Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, applauds Senator Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) and Representative Patty Acomb (D-Minnetonka) for leadership on legislation led by Komen that would remove financial barriers to imaging that can rule out breast cancer or confirm the need for a biopsy. In 2022 alone, an estimated 4,950 women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer and 640 will die of the disease in Minnesota.
“Everyone should have access to the care they need, especially when it could mean the difference between life and death,” said Molly Guthrie, Senior Director of Public Policy and Advocacy at Susan G. Komen. “Too many cancers are going undetected, but this legislation can make an immediate impact for thousands of people who need a diagnostic test every year and cannot afford it. Catching cancers early leads to better outcomes for anyone diagnosed with breast cancer.”
HF 447/SF 989 would eliminate out-of-pocket costs for diagnostic breast imaging (such as an MRI, ultrasound, diagnostic mammogram) when a mammogram shows an abnormality in the breast or for those determined to be at high risk. Those exams can be extremely expensive and require people to pay high out-of-pocket costs – all before treatment even begins. 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. The cost of the test prevents women in Minnesota from getting the imaging they require and continuing in the early detection process to determine if a breast abnormality is cancerous.
An estimated 16 percent of people who receive annual screening mammograms get called back for diagnostic imaging. Out-of-pocket costs are also burdensome to those who have previously been diagnosed with breast cancer, as diagnostic tests are often recommended each year rather than traditional screening mammography.
“As a breast cancer survivor, I know first-hand how important early detection and follow-up testing can be,” said Representative Acomb. “This bill will ensure diagnostic testing with no patient cost sharing, so hopefully all women can have the positive outcome I had.
The use of breast cancer screening and follow-up diagnostics have led to significant increases in the early detection of breast cancer in the past 30 years. However, this is not true across demographics. Evidence shows that Black breast cancer patients were diagnosed at a later stage and had a higher mortality rate when compared with their white counterparts with the same insurance status.
“Diagnostic imaging is critical a piece in the early detection of breast cancer, and we all know that early detection leads to much better outcomes,” said Senator Nelson. “No one should be forced to delay or forgo critical care due to cost. This isn’t a Republican or a Democrat issue, it is about doing what is right for Minnesotans!”