The Department of Health and Human Services marked the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month by praising the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for providing women free services that help prevent breast cancer.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States.
With health reform, “it’s a new day for women’s health and the fight against breast cancer,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement Monday.
That’s because the PPACA mandates that most health plans—including Medicare—cover mammograms and certain other preventive services with no copays or other out-of-pocket costs.
“We know that the chance of successful treatment is highest when breast cancer is detected early,” Sebelius said. “While not a perfect tool, mammogram screenings are key to early detection. But budgets are tight, and even moderate copays can deter many women from getting those important screenings.”
Last year, more than 6 million women with Medicare got a free mammogram, Sebelius said.
She also noted that beginning in 2014, it will be illegal for insurers to discriminate against anyone with a pre-existing condition, such as breast cancer.