New health insurance plans or insurance policies beginning on or after Sept. 23 will be required to cover, without cost sharing, several recommended preventive healthcare services--including breast cancer screening--under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
During a July 14 press conference, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that cancer screenings will be included among the preventive care services in which consumers will not be required to pay a deductible, co-pay or co-insurance when the services are delivered by a network provider.
Contradicting the contentious 2009 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations to screen women between the ages of 50 and 74 every two years instead of annually, the agency said that mammography screenings should occur every one to two years for women over the age of 40, based on the 2002 USPSTF recommendations.
Other cancer screenings in the new ruling included:
- BRCA counseling about genetic testing for women at higher risk;
- Colorectal cancer screening for adults over the age of 50; and
- Cervical cancer screening for sexually active women.
Presently, many large company plans offering solid preventive benefits will be exempt from the requirements, stated HHS.