Affordable Care Act: Newest Tool in Fight Against Breast Cancer
ST. PAUL, Minn. - October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and this year's event marks a major shift in women being able to access the health care they need. Under the Affordable Care Act, women cannot be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition such as breast cancer, said Matt Schafer, government relations director, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network in Minnesota.
"The health care law also requires health plans to cover annual preventive mammograms for women starting at age 40," Schafer said. "It prohibits lifetime dollar limits on coverage and it also restricts the amount of out-of-pocket costs. For an organization like the American Cancer Society, which is focused on finding a cure for this disease, nothing could be better."
Education on prevention, earlier detection and better treatment options has helped the five-year survival rate for breast cancer to climb to around 98 percent. Schafer said more improvement is expected, as more women are able to access affordable health care and get in for regular check-ups and treatment if needed.
"We've learned a lot about cancer," Schafer said. "We've learned a lot about preventing it. We've learned a lot about treating it. The one challenge we've encountered is cost. With the piece of mind that women are going to have looking into the next year, they can spend more time focusing on getting healthy and not worrying about their life savings."
Each year in Minnesota, more than 3,000 new cases are diagnosed and some 600 women in the state die from breast cancer.
Enrollment under the state's health care marketplace, called MNsure, is now under way, with the policies to take effect as of Jan. 1.
More information is available at http://acscan.org.