More than 20 years ago, my personal involvement in the fight against breast cancer started after four of my friends were diagnosed with the disease in the same year. After one of those friends lost her battle, I saw just what a ruthless adversary breast cancer could be. Far too many of us have lost a loved one to breast cancer or seen a colleague or friend endure painful treatments to fight the disease.
That is why I am so pleased that today the Administration is making clear that most health insurance plans must soon cover chemoprevention medications like tamoxifen and raloxifene that can reduce the risk of breast cancer for women who have an increased chance of developing the disease. In addition, these health plans will have to cover the medications at no cost to these women.
Women who are at high risk of developing breast cancer face many questions. Now, if their doctor recommends that the benefits of this treatment outweigh the risks, one question women across the country won’t have to ask is whether they can afford it.
This is just one more way the Affordable Care Act is helping fight breast cancer. Already, the ACA ensures that about 47 million women have access to free mammograms every year or two, that insurance companies can no longer deny coverage or increase premiums due to pre-existing conditions like breast cancer, and new health plans can no longer set an annual or lifetime cap on someone’s health insurance benefits – meaning women diagnosed with breast cancer will not max out their insurance benefits while seeking treatment.
For breast cancer survivors, these changes can make all the difference. I met Myrna Rodriguez Previte, in 2012. In 2003, Myrna, a self-employed real estate broker, was refused health coverage when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36. Thankfully, Myrna eventually got covered on her husband’s policy, but because of the Affordable Care Act, it is now illegal for an insurance company to drop people like Myrna from coverage because they receive a breast cancer diagnosis.
This fight is personal for so many of us, including me. Not just for the friends and family who have already received a breast cancer diagnosis, but for our friends, sisters, daughters, and mothers who are at increased risk of developing breast cancer.