Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, applauds Senator Pamela Beidle (D-Anne Arundel) and Delegate Sheree Sample-Hughes (D-Dorchester) for working with Komen to introduce legislation that would remove financial barriers to imaging that can rule out breast cancer or confirm the need for a biopsy. In 2023, more than 5,760 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 850 will die of the disease in Maryland alone.
“This legislation can make an immediate impact for thousands of people who require diagnostic or supplemental breast imaging yet are unable to afford it and often forego the tests,” said Molly Guthrie, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at Susan G. Komen. “Everyone should be able to access the care they need and afford it, especially when it could mean the difference between a person’s life and death.”
SB 184, introduced by Sen. Beidle, and HB 376, introduced Del. Sample-Hughes, would eliminate out-of-pocket costs for diagnostic and supplemental breast imaging (such as an MRI, ultrasound, diagnostic mammogram) when medically necessary. These exams can be extremely expensive and require people to pay high out-of-pocket costs – all before more expensive treatment even begins.
A Komen-commissioned study found the costs to patients range from $234 for a diagnostic mammogram to more than $1,021 for a breast MRI. The cost of the test prevents individuals in Maryland from getting the imaging they require, making it difficult to detect their breast cancer as early as possible.
“I am proud to be a champion for critical legislation to ensure patients do not forgo medically necessary diagnostic services. Prohibitive co-pays and additional out-of-pocket costs when an abnormality is detected during a breast screening could be mitigated through HB 376,” said Del. Sample-Hughes. “Early diagnosis is the best way to effectively treat breast cancer, especially for black women who are 40% more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage and have higher mortality rates. This is a step towards reducing barriers for all Marylanders to receive the necessary medical testing they need without worrying if they can afford it.”
An estimated 16 percent of people who receive annual screening mammograms nationwide get called back for diagnostic imaging. Additionally, these tests are often recommended for those who have previously been diagnosed with breast cancer and for some individuals who are considered at high-risk for breast cancer, making their out-of-pocket costs particularly burdensome to those individuals.
“The earlier we can identify and diagnose breast cancer, the more treatment options we can provide patients, and the more lives we can save,” said Sen. Beidle. “I am proud to sponsor this bill that will eliminate the patient cost-sharing for medically necessary diagnostic imaging and reduce cost barriers for Marylanders in need of a timely diagnosis or survivors who are in need of a follow-up diagnostic test.”
The use of breast cancer screening and follow-up diagnostics have led to significant increases in the early detection of breast cancer in the past 30 years. However, this is not true across all demographics. Evidence shows that Black and Hispanic breast cancer patients tend to be diagnosed at a later stage, perhaps due to delays in follow-up imaging after abnormal findings on an annual mammogram.
More diagnostic and supplemental breast imaging is likely going to be needed due to “missed” breast cancers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts warn that missed mammograms could lead to more later-stage breast cancer diagnoses, once detected, so it is critically important that we increase access to affordable tests to those who medically require it.
About Susan G. Komen®
Susan G. Komen® is the world’s leading nonprofit breast cancer organization, working to save lives and end breast cancer forever. Komen has an unmatched, comprehensive 360-degree approach to fighting this disease across all fronts and supporting millions of people in the U.S. and in countries worldwide. We advocate for patients, drive research breakthroughs, improve access to high-quality care, offer direct patient support and empower people with trustworthy information. Founded by Nancy G. Brinker, who promised her sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would end the disease that claimed Suzy’s life, Komen remains committed to supporting those affected by breast cancer today, while tirelessly searching for tomorrow’s cures. Visit komen.org or call 1-877 GO KOMEN. Connect with us on social at www.komen.org/contact-us/follow-us/.
CONTACT: Amanda DeBard
Susan G. Komen