Susan G. Komen® Commends Bill Introductions; Urges Quick Passage
PROVIDENCE– Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization commends Senator Samuel D. Zurier (D-Providence) for working with Komen to eliminate financial barriers to earlier breast cancer detection by ensuring that everyone has equitable access to diagnostic and supplemental breast imaging.
In Rhode Island more than 1,090 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 120 will die of the disease in 2024 alone. The exorbitant out-of-pocket costs associated with essential breast imaging procedures ranging from hundreds-to-thousands of dollars, often force individuals into the difficult decision of skipping these tests or making significant financial sacrifices.
“Nobody should have to forego a test that helps to rule out breast cancer or confirm the need for a biopsy because of the cost, yet thousands of people in Rhode Island are doing it every year,” said Molly Guthrie, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at Susan G. Komen. “This bill will provide pivotal access to diagnostic and supplemental imaging so that individuals can get the care they need without having to endure undue financial burden. It is an important step toward equitable access to care, potentially saving lives by facilitating early detection and treatment.”
SB 2070, introduced by Senator Zurier, eliminates the patient out-of-pocket costs for medically necessary diagnostic and supplemental breast imaging including MRIs, ultrasounds, and diagnostic mammograms. While no-cost mammograms are currently available to women, when a mammogram reveals an abnormality, diagnostic and supplemental imaging is necessary to give medical providers a closer look at the abnormality and determine if a biopsy is needed. The high out-of-pockets costs for the follow-up imaging deters many individuals in Rhode Island from getting it, and as a result, breast cancer can be diagnosed at a later stage.
“I am proud to sponsor this bill to eliminate, patient cost-sharing for medically necessary diagnostic imaging and reduce cost barriers for all Rhode Islanders in need of a timely diagnosis,” said Senator Zurier. “This bill will not only help those who are newly diagnosed with Breast Cancer but survivors as well who need a follow-up diagnostic test. The earlier we can identify and diagnose breast cancer, the more treatment options we can provide patients, and the more lives we can save.”
An estimated 12% of individuals are called back for additional imaging after an abnormal screening mammogram and require diagnostic imaging. This diagnostic or supplemental imaging is often crucial for individuals previously diagnosed with breast cancer or those considered high-risk. The cost creates inequities in care and imposes additional financial barriers for these patients.
Despite significant advancements in breast cancer screening and diagnostics over the past 30 years, disparities persist across demographics. Evidence shows that Black and Hispanic breast cancer patients tend to be diagnosed at a later stage, potentially due to delays in follow-up imaging after abnormal findings on an annual mammogram.
A Komen-commissioned study found out-of-pockets costs for patients to range from $234 for a diagnostic mammogram to more than $1,000 for a breast MRI. Additionally, a recent study published in Radiology found that 1 in 5 patients said they would not go in for recommended follow-up imaging if they had to pay a deductible.