Monday October 07, 2013
It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month – a month dedicated to raising awareness about the early detection of breast cancer and celebrating those who have survived their battle with the disease.
But this October is different from previous years. For the first time, breast cancer patients and their families also have the security of knowing they no longer have to worry about whether they will be able to get the care they need. Why? Because this Breast Cancer Awareness Month coincides with the opening of state health insurance marketplaces created by the health care law.
The new marketplaces opened Oct. 1, allowing millions of uninsured Americans to shop for quality, affordable insurance plans that will begin coverage Jan. 1 of next year. How do we know the plans offer quality care? The health care law requires them to cover essential benefits needed to prevent, treat and survive a disease such as breast cancer. The law’s emphasis on disease prevention and early detection means that all plans must cover annual mammograms starting at age 40 and BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic counseling and testing for women who have a family history of breast and ovarian cancer – all at no cost to patients.
How are plans sold in the marketplaces made affordable? First, patients will no longer have dollar limits placed on the care they receive annually or over their lifetime. A woman with breast cancer will no longer have to worry about delaying chemo treatments because her plan only covers a limited amount of care each year. Second, sick people will no longer be charged more for coverage than healthy people starting Jan. 1. Third, starting next year there will be limits to how much patients must pay in out-of-pocket costs and deductibles. This could mean a woman needing treatment for breast cancer won’t have to choose between her life and her life savings.
An estimated 232,000 women in America will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 40,000 will die from the disease this year, making it the second leading cause of cancer death in women. A woman’s five-year survival rate is 98 percent when breast cancer is detected early, but only 24 percent when detected at a later stage. Cost and lack of insurance have for too long been significant barriers to getting preventive care, and the health care law makes tremendous strides toward ensuring women no longer have to worry about affording or accessing the care they need.
Share our fact sheet on the health care law and breast cancer, as well as our consumer guide that provides an overview of the law, and help us spread the word about how the health care law benefits women with breast cancer and their families.