New proposed bill would make some breast cancer screenings free

The legislation was introduced by Sen. Rachael Cabral-Guevara and Rep. Nate Gustafson
The proposed bill would help cover certain costs for women with an increased risk for breast cancer.
Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 3:47 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - A new proposed bill could help cover certain costs for women with an increased risk of breast cancer. It was first introduced after a cancer survivor shared her story with the Wisconsin State Assembly about how her cancer was first detected.

“She was then asked to have an ultrasound which came up positive for breast cancer,” said Senator Rachael Cabral-Guevara. “The trick of this was, she was told mammograms would cover these screenings and detect breast cancer and this is something most women believe.”

Roughly 40% of women have dense breast tissue, according to the CDC. Detecting cancer for women in the demographic typically requires extra screenings. The bill is aiming to cut the expenses for the 40% of women with dense breast tissue who may need more than just a mammogram.

Current state law does require health insurance policies to provide two mammograms for women with certain criteria, and one annual screening to women over 50 at no out-of-pocket patient costs.

Out-of-pocket supplemental screenings such as MRIs and ultrasounds cost patients hundreds, sometimes over $1,000.

“The information we get from that mammogram and getting screened early and on time is very important in terms of detecting the cancer early,” said Dr. Natalie Luehmann, a breast surgeon at Aurora Baycare General and Vascular Surgery. “If we find a cancer on a screening mammogram that’s small and you can’t even feel yet, it can drastically change the prognosis for that cancer.”

Sen. Cabral-Guevara says she hopes the Wisconsin Senate and Assembly committee will vote on the bill so patients can access zero-cost additional screenings by the end of the year.

Some women face higher costs than others