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Health systems could pay for wigs, prosthetics for hair loss caused by cancer treatment

Patients fighting cancer face mental and physical challenges to overcome an extremely stressful time of their lives, made that much worse if chemotherapy and radiotherapy regimens cause them to lose their hair.

Easing that stress is the goal of Rep. Ginny Klevorn (DFL-Plymouth).

She sponsors HF4557 that would require accident and health insurance and most other types of health service plans to pay for wigs and other scalp protheses used for hair loss caused by cancer treatment.

Current law requires health insurance providers to cover alopecia areata, a common type of patchy hair loss having many medical causes.

The bill would impose that same requirement for cancer treatment-related hair loss, up to $1,000 per benefit year.

The House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee approved the bill, as amended, on a voice vote Monday and sent it to the House Health Finance and Policy Committee.

“Wigs give cancer patients some sense of privacy,” wrote Dr. Sumedha Penheiter, chair of the Minnesota Cancer Alliance Steering Committee. “Wigs are an important option that should be consistently available to Minnesota’s cancer patients.

“… Challenges related to the costs of cancer care can affect a person’s treatment and well-being during a time they should be focused on their treatment and recovery.”

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