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Family 411: Breast Cancer Screening

Updated: Tuesday, November 19 2013, 04:26 PM EST
Alarming or reality?  Women may be reading headlines and stories on the web or Facebook about breast cancer care and treatment under health care reform, or Obamacare.

We asked special correspondent Sheila Gray to sort out what is fact or fiction in our family 4-1-1 special report.

Health care is making headlines daily and some of those headlines simply are not true.  Dr. Shawn Cassiman, "I think there's an awful lot of spin."

We first checked the claim that some women won't be able to get mammograms, and others won't get them often enough.  The Kaiser Family Foundation is a private non profit which researches major health care issues.   The Affordable Care Act guarantees 22 preventive services specifically for women.   

Women age 40 and older can have breast cancer screening mammograms every 1 to 2 years, with no cost sharing, that is, no co-pay or deductible.

"Some of the confusion on how mammograms are covered under Obamacare stems from four-year old controversy involving the U.S. preventive services task force, which said back then that women didn't need mammograms before age 50, and they didn't need them every year."

The panel of doctors argued that the risk of cancer in women between 40 and 49 was too small to justify routine screening and it's still prompting scary headlines.  But the national institutes of health says specific language in the 2010 reform law repudiates the breast cancer recommendation.

The Kaiser Family Foundation says women and their doctors can opt for mammograms yearly or every two years.  Doctors can also have women younger than 40 screened if they're at high risk for breast cancer.

Dr. Thomas Heck, breast surgeon, "It's very important.  Mammograms lead to earlier detection and lead to saving lives is the bottom line of all this."

Breast cancer susceptibility gene counseling and testing are also guaranteed for women with family pre-disposition.    

Angelina Jolie thrust the testing into the spotlight when she underwent a double mastectomy earlier this year.

Social welfare expert, Dr. Shawn Cassiman hopes the politics of health care won't keep people from signing up.  Shawn Cassiman, Ph.D, Social Welfare, I hope folks will get beyond that rhetoric and say let me check it out at least.

The most important thing to stress here is that women need to talk to their employers, or their health care plans to determine whether they have to share part of the cost of breast cancer screening.  Again, the coverage is guaranteed under the law.Family 411: Breast Cancer Screening


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