Thousands of Californians Would Benefit by Removing Barriers to Required Breast Imaging
Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, applauds Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) for her 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 31,720 women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer and 4,690 will die of the disease in California.
“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.”
AB 2024 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 in California to range from $265 for a diagnostic mammogram to more than $3,000 for a breast MRI. The cost of the test prevents individuals in California 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.
“No one should ever be forced to forgo necessary medical care because they can’t afford it,” said Assemblymember Friedman. “Increasing access to critical follow-uo imaging services can be a lifesaver, and AB 2024 will help patients in California receive the care that they need.”
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.