New groundbreaking technology beyond the reach of many women
THERE’S good news for women over 40: As of 2014, insurance companies are required by law to cover annual mammograms in full, with no co-pay. Unfortunately, 3D mammograms—an advanced technology that has been shown to detect cancers earlier than a traditional one—often are not covered by insurance companies.
One of the newest ways to screen for cancer, 3D mammography lets the doctor see through layers of breast tissue much more clearly, for a more accurate exam and fewer false alarms.
The problem, as many women have discovered to their disappointment, is that many insurance companies do not provide payment for this lifesaving technology.
The earlier breast cancer is detected, the better the chance for successful treatment. Considering that one in eight American women can expect to develop breast cancer at some point in her life, access to the best screening technology for early detection is critical.
How it works
For the patient, having a 3D mammogram is nearly identical to having a traditional mammogram.
The difference is in how the images are captured and displayed to give doctors more accurate information. Reading a 3D mammogram is a little like reading a book. If you look down at the cover, you cannot see individual pages. However, when you open it up, you can go through the entire book page by page to see everything in between the covers. Using 3D mammography, doctors can look at different layers of breast tissue, much like looking at individual pages in a book. This helps them find cancers that might be hidden behind normal tissue. Clinical studies have shown that 3D mammography can find cancers earlier, especially invasive tumors that can be lethal. When cancers are found while they are still small, they are easier and less expensive to treat. Another plus: There are fewer false positives with 3D mammography. That means thousands of women will be spared the worry, anxiety and cost of being called back for unnecessary tests. For all these reasons, many women are checking their health insurance to be sure it pays for 3D mammography. Many insurance plans do not, meaning a lot of women lack access to this advanced technology that many doctors consider game changing.
You can be your best advocate and ask your insurance company to pay for the more accurate 3D mammography exam. Since many doctors will only be able to invest in 3D mammography equipment when they know that their patients’ insurance will pay for it, you may also want to ask your doctor about the availability of this technology in your area.
Are you covered?
You can take action to be able to get a 3D mammogram at no cost to you:
• Ask your insurer to pay for this test, if it is not already.
• Ask your doctor about avail- ability of this technology in your area.
• Ask your legislators what they’re doing to ensure that 3D mammography is available to all women.
For further facts on the benefits of 3D mammography, talk to your doctor and visit www.3Dmammogram.com for a list of 3D mammography providers nearby. Many Americans are also contacting their legislators and insurance companies about making 3D mammograms accessible. You can reach your representative about this or any issue at www.house.gov and your senators at www.senate.gov.
North American Precis Syndicate