National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is almost at an end. This year’s observance marks a major shift, as more women will be able to access the health care they need. Matt Schafer works for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. He says under the Affordable Care Act, women cannot be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition such as breast cancer.
“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. And for an organization like the American Cancer Society, that’s focused on finding a cure for this disease, nothing can be better,” said Schafer.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for every 100,000 women in Indiana, 120 are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and for 23 of them, it is fatal. Prevention education, earlier detection and better treatment options have all helped the five-year survival rate for breast cancer climb to around 98 percent. Schafer says more improvements are 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. We’ve learned a lot about preventing it. We’ve learned a lot about treating it, but the one challenge we’ve encountered is cost. And 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,” Schafer said.
Enrollment under the Affordable Care Act health care marketplace is now under way in Indiana, with the policies to take effect Jan. 1.