SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Big insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage for certain necessary mammograms under a new law passed by state Rep. Mike Halpin, D-Rock Island, requiring insurers to cover the potentially lifesaving procedure that can detect breast cancer before it becomes critical.
“As usual, big insurance companies are fixated on padding their profits with no regard to the needs of the people they are supposed to help keep healthy,” Halpin. “Trying to shave off costs by cutting coverage for mammograms, a common procedure most women need, often more than once during their life, is shameful. We have to send a message to the insurance companies that these practices can’t go on.”
Halpin voted to pass Senate Bill 162, which expands coverage for mammograms. Halpin’s legislation would require insurance companies to cover diagnostic mammograms, which are typically done to follow up and collect more information after a preventative screening indicated signs of breast cancer. Currently, regularly-scheduled preventative mammograms must be covered, but physician-requested diagnostic mammograms are not, and patients are forced to share the cost of the procedure. Halpin’s legislation received strong bipartisan support and was recently signed into law.
In 2016, the CDC reported 17.3 million mammograms. In about 12% of cases, women were called back for another, more thorough diagnostic mammogram—which is currently not covered by many health insurance providers. Estimates indicate that doctors regularly requesting a second mammogram has lowered cancer mortality by about 40%.
“Breast cancer is becoming increasingly manageable thanks to remarkable advances in medical science. However, diagnostic mammograms are still the main tool doctors use to catch breast cancer early,” Halpin said. “If women can’t afford regular mammograms, cancer may spread beyond the point where doctors can treat it, and that’s not acceptable. I am committed to making Illinois a place where the amount of money a person has doesn’t limit the quality of health care they receive.”