CANCER ANSWER TUESDAYS
from Leif Rogers, M.D., FACS
Dr. Leif Rogers dedicates fifty percent of his practice to breast reconstruction and supports any effort to educate and inform patients about their options and rights. Last year the the America Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and The Plastic Surgery Foundation launched the first annual National Breast Reconstruction Awareness (BRA) Day in an effort to raise awareness about the Breast Cancer Education Act, breast reconstruction options and insurance coverage.
BREAST CANCER EDUCATION ACT
On June 8, 2012 a bi-partisan committee of politicians* introduced legislation to the House of Representatives called the “Breast Cancer Patient Education Act.” The act requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to plan and implement an education campaign to inform breast cancer patients of the availability and coverage of breast reconstruction, prostheses and other options.
Even though breast reconstruction is covered under many insurance policies only 33 percent of eligible women with breast cancer undergo reconstruction. The primary reason for this seems to be that patients have not been informed of their coverage options and were not referred to a plastic surgeon for breast reconstruction.
Since 1998, health plans that offer breast cancer coverage have been required to provide coverage for breast reconstruction and prostheses. However, published research shows that nearly 70 percent of women are not informed of their care options. In fact, recent studies by ASPS Member Surgeon Amy Alderman, MD, determined that the two dominant reasons why women did not undergo breast reconstruction were that they were not informed of options and they were not referred to a plastic surgeon for breast reconstruction.
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