SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Diane Pappas, D-Itasca, is battling big insurance companies who deny coverage for critical mammograms by helping pass a new law requiring insurers to cover the lifesaving procedure that can find breast cancer before it becomes untreatable.
“Too often, big insurance companies are more focused on their bottom line than patient care, putting people’s lives in danger,” Pappas said. “Diagnostic mammograms save countless lives every year, and insurance companies want to make them harder to pay for. I’m not OK with that, and this law is one way to ensure women have access to essential, life-saving care.”
Pappas voted to pass Senate Bill 162, which expands coverage for mammograms. Pappas’ legislation would require insurance companies to cover diagnostic mammograms, which are typically done to follow up and collect more information after a preventative screening that indicated signs of breast cancer. Currently, regularly-scheduled preventative mammograms must be covered, but physician-requested diagnostic mammograms are not, forcing patients to share the cost of the procedure. Pappas’s legislation received strong bipartisan support and was recently signed into law.
In 2016, the CDC reported that 17.3 million mammograms were done throughout the country. In about 12 percent of cases, women were called back for another, more thorough diagnostic mammogram —which is currently not covered by many health insurance plans, despite estimates that indicate having a second mammogram has lowered breast cancer mortality by about 40 percent.
“Breast cancer treatment is extremely effective, and if we catch it early, very straightforward. But if insurance companies are raising prices for diagnostic mammograms, which are a doctor’s number one tool for early detection, then people may delay or even skip them, making it more difficult to treat cancer if not caught early enough,” Pappas said. “Raising prices for diagnostic mammograms will undoubtedly end up costing people their lives, and we can’t let that happen. I am committed to building a stronger Illinois where no one loses access to health care because of how much money they have.”