Newswise — Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading breast cancer organization, commends Representative Erin Healy (D-Sioux Falls) for working with Komen to eliminate financial barriers to earlier breast cancer detection by ensuring that everyone has equitable access to diagnostic and supplemental breast imaging.

In South Dakota, more than 760 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 110 are expected to die of the disease in 2024 alone. The exorbitant out-of-pocket costs associated with essential breast imaging procedures, ranging from hundreds-to-thousands of dollars, often force individuals into the difficult decision of skipping these tests or making significant financial sacrifices.  

“Nobody should have to forego a test that helps to rule out breast cancer or confirm the need for a biopsy because of the cost, yet thousands of people in South Dakota are doing it every year,” said Molly Guthrie, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at Susan G. Komen. “This bill will provide pivotal access to diagnostic and supplemental imaging so that individuals can get the care they need without having to endure undue financial burden. It is an important step toward equitable access to care, potentially saving lives by facilitating early detection and treatment.”

HB 1122, introduced by Representative Healy, eliminates the patient out-of-pocket costs for medically necessary diagnostic and supplemental breast imaging including MRIs, ultrasounds, contrast-enhanced mammography and diagnostic mammograms. While no-cost mammograms are currently available to women, when a mammogram reveals an abnormality, diagnostic and supplemental imaging is necessary to give medical providers a closer look at the abnormality and determine if a biopsy is needed. The high out-of-pockets costs for the follow-up imaging deters many individuals in South Dakota from getting it, and as a result, breast cancer can be diagnosed at a later stage.

“It's imperative we remove hurdles that prevent many individuals from getting life-saving cancer screenings,” said Representative Healy. “Early detection of breast cancer saves lives, but unfortunately, South Dakotans are forced to put off diagnostic imaging due to cost concerns. This should never be a barrier to accessing critical health care services. I'm proud to sponsor this legislation, which will help patients discover they have breast cancer and get diagnosed earlier.”

An estimated 12% of individuals are called back for additional imaging after an abnormal screening mammogram and require diagnostic imaging. This diagnostic or supplemental imaging is often crucial for individuals previously diagnosed with breast cancer or those considered high-risk. The cost creates inequities in care and imposes additional financial barriers for these patients.

Despite significant advancements in breast cancer screening and diagnostics over the past 30 years, disparities persist across demographics. Evidence shows that American Indian/Alaska Native women are more than 30% more likely to be diagnosed with advanced stage breast cancer.

A Komen-commissioned study found out-of-pockets costs for patients to range from $234 for a diagnostic mammogram to more than $1,000 for a breast MRI. Additionally, a recent study published in Radiology found that 1 in 5 patients said they would not go in for recommended follow-up imaging if they had to pay a deductible.

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