CHICAGO – A new law backed by state Rep. Yehiel “Mark” Kalish, D-Chicago, will prevent big insurance companies from denying coverage for lifesaving breast cancer screenings that can detect breast cancer during early stages.
“The health of women in our community needs to come first, not the profit of huge insurance companies,” Kalish said. “Left unchecked, big insurance will skirt their way out of covering lifesaving procedures, all to increase their profits. It’s unconscionable that these companies are putting the lives of women at risk by refusing coverage on these lifesaving screenings.”
Kalish voted to pass Senate Bill 162, which expands coverage for lifesaving mammograms. Kalish’s proposal requires 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. Kalish’s legislation received strong bipartisan support and was recently signed into law.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 12% of mammograms require a 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%.
“It’s morally reprehensible that insurance companies are not covering follow-up screenings for women that have shown even greater risk of having breast cancer,” Kalish said. “Early detection is key in the fight against breast cancer. By making sure women are able to receive these screenings, we will save lives.”