TULSA, Okla. — A new bill is aiming to make women's healthcare more affordable in Oklahoma, specifically for those needing diagnostic mammograms.
It’s typically recommended that women over the age of 40 get a screening mammogram each year, which is free with insurance. If doctors find something, they will then get a diagnostic mammogram.
“If they find something, you can’t not get the diagnostic [mammogram]," said State Rep. Melissa Provenzano (D-Tulsa). "Early detection can be the difference between life and death.”
But a diagnostic mammogram isn't always free, which may lead to some women putting their health at risk.
So, Rep. Provenzano is hoping to change that with House Bill 3504. It requires insurance companies to cover diagnostic mammograms when ordered by a physician.
Provenzano said some insurance companies may already cover it, but others don’t or are somewhere in between.
“That can be pretty cost-prohibitive depending on your insurance coverage," Rep. Provenzano said. "Anywhere from $200 to $1,000 each time you have to get one.”
Susan Zook, the oncology service line administrator at Hillcrest Medical Center, said some women may put off the diagnostic testing because they can’t afford it.
“I think the most important thing to remember for a diagnostic is, you will have a deductible and an out-of-pocket maximum," Zook said. "And we’ve all seen our deductibles and our out-of-pocket maximums rise tremendously in the last couple of years with everything happening in the healthcare world.”
While women typically start getting mammograms at 40, this bill covers them starting at 35 if they need it because of something like a family history of breast cancer.
“If you’re under 40, you definitely have a reason you’re coming in so we’ll jump straight to the more advanced mammogram, which will give more pictures, more angles, a little bit of a deeper dive into what your problems are," Zook said.
The state House unanimously approved the bill. It now goes to the Senate.
Zook also said women stopped coming in for their checkups during their pandemic. She encourages them to come back and get their screenings.
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