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Op-Ed: Eliminating Cost-Barriers to Breast Cancer Screening Will Save Lives

In California alone, 31,720 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. In 2022, 4,690 women will die from the disease. As a breast cancer survivor, I know firsthand that early access to diagnosis and treatment can save lives. That is why I have joined forces with Susan G. Komen and introduced AB 2024, state legislation to eliminate the co-pays, deductibles and other cost-sharing a woman would have to pay to get necessary breast cancer screening and diagnostic tests.

An estimated 16% of women screened with modern digital mammography require follow-up imaging. We all have been told over and over again about how important early detection of breast cancer is for survivability and effectiveness of treatment. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, health plans must cover screening mammograms for women beginning at age 40 if recommended by a health care provider. However, if your mammogram is inconclusive or if your doctor sees something suspicious and wants you to get an MRI, that screening test can cost women anywhere from a few hundred to several thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs. Worrying about whether or not you can pay for your screening should not be a barrier to finding out if you have cancer.