SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, Rep. Patty Acomb (DFL – Minnetonka) and Sen. Carla Nelson (R – Rochester) highlighted a bipartisan bill that would expand access to breast cancer exams. As survivors of breast cancer, the legislators are working together to ensure all Minnesotans can get affordable and timely diagnostic tests.
“As a breast cancer survivor, I know first-hand how important early detection and follow-up testing can be,” said Rep. Acomb, a survivor of breast cancer. “This bill will ensure diagnostic testing with no patient cost sharing, so hopefully all women can have the positive outcome I had.”
“Diagnostic imaging is a critical piece in the early detection of breast cancer, and we all know that early detection leads to much better outcomes,” said Sen. Nelson, whose mother is a survivor of breast cancer. “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!”
Rep. Acomb and Sen. Nelson have introduced legislation that would require health plans to provide coverage for people who need additional diagnostic services or testing after a mammogram. It would eliminate out-of-pocket costs, including all co-pays, deductibles, and coinsurance.
Millions of Americans have access to free preventative screening mammograms. However, 12 percent of people who receive a screening mammogram will need additional testing to rule out breast cancer or confirm the need for a biopsy. Coverage for follow-up tests varies widely, creating stress and confusion for individuals who are already dealing with the possibility of a breast cancer diagnosis.
Patients who require follow-up testing may face hundreds or even thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs. According to a study commissioned by Susan G. Komen, the average out-of-pocket cost for a diagnostic mammogram is $234 and the average cost of a breast MRI is $1,021. People who can’t afford this may be forced to delay or forego testing. If an individual does have breast cancer and it spreads while they’re waiting to be diagnosed, it may become deadlier and more expensive to treat.