October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and advocates say President Obama’s health care law is making this year exceptional. The Affordable Care Act counts breast cancer as a pre-existing condition, meaning insurance providers aren’t allowed to use it as a basis to deny coverage.
“The health care law also requires health plans to cover annual preventive mammograms for women starting at age 40. It prohibits lifetime dollar limits on coverage and it also restricts the amount of out-of-pocket costs,” said Matt Schafer of the American Cancer Society Action Network.
“For an organization like the American Cancer Society that’s focused on finding a cure for this disease, nothing could be better,” he said.
Last year in Massachusetts, 5800 new cases of the disease were diagnosed, and 810 women died.
Education on prevention, earlier detection and better treatment options have all helped the five-year survival rate for breast cancer to climb to around 98-percent. Schafer said better access to affordable care, regular check-ups and treatment will only help improve that.
“We’ve learned a lot about cancer. We’ve learned a lot about preventing it. We’ve learned a lot about treating it, but one challenge we’ve encountered is cost,” he said. “The peace 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.”
New health plans take effect January 1st. Enrollment opened at the start of this month and runs through March. Cape and Islands residents should contact the Community Action Committee for more information. Details on the health care law are available at healthcare.gov.
- Cape Cod Health Care will hold an afternoon tea for breast cancer awareness October 18th at their Cuda Women’s Center in Barnstable. Click here for details.