Health Insurance Reform and Breast Cancer Report Released


A report entitled “Health Insurance Reform and Breast Cancer: Making the Health Care System Work for Women” was released on October 24, 2009, by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. The report explains how health insurance reform will help women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

According to the report, “women face increasingly high deductibles, copayments, and other cost-sharing requirements,” all of which make it difficult or impossible for them to make ends meet. Women who have breast cancer are especially affected by these rising costs. The report notes that breast cancer patients who have employer-based health insurance had total out-of-pocket expenses averaging $6,250 in 2007, which is greater than out-of-pocket costs for patients who had asthma, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or high blood pressure.

The report also notes that women with breast cancer, even when they are in remission, have difficulty finding health insurance coverage in the individual insurance market. Eleven percent of people who have any type of cancer report that they could not obtain health insurance in the individual insurance market.

The government’s new report states that solutions to health insurance problems faced by women with breast cancer can be solved by “expanding health insurance to all Americans and providing premium assistance to make it affordable.” It also notes that “health insurance reform will limit what insurance companies can force an individual to pay in out-of-pocket expenses,” as well as do away with yearly and lifetime ceilings on how much insurance companies will cover when a policy holder is sick.


In addition, the report promises that health insurance reform will not allow insurance companies to deny coverage based on preexisting conditions, including genetic information. Reform measures will also prohibit insurance companies from retroactively canceling coverage when someone becomes ill.

In terms of preventive measures, the report says that health insurance reform will invest in a public health fund that will ensure all Americans have access to free preventive care, like mammograms, through their health insurance plans. Reform will also require quality reporting by hospitals to help ensure high-quality care.

The “Health Insurance Reform and Breast Cancer” report, which can be read online at the HealthReform website, makes many positive statements and promises. Yet it remains to be seen whether any of them will be achieved to any degree of satisfaction for women with breast cancer or for any American for that matter. So far they are just words, like the words that have bandied about for months in the Senate and House. While the “Health Insurance Reform and Breast Cancer” report is a well-referenced, easily readable document, meaningful action is the only thing that really matters.


US Department of Health and Human Services report: Health Insurance Reform and Breast Cancer: Making the Health Care System Work for Women

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