Target: Roger A. Sevigny, President of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners
Goal: Stop health insurance companies from potentially using new age guidelines as a means to restrict access to mammograms
In recent years, the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF), the primary agency responsible for setting preventative health standards in the United States, has issued new and controversial recommendations for breast cancer screening in women. Among these much-disputed guidelines is the USPSTF’s recommendation that only women aged 50-74 years receive biennial mammography screenings. The organization asserts that “the decision to start regular, biennial screening mammography before the age of 50 years should be an individual one and take patient context into account, including the patient’s values regarding specific benefits and harms.”
The USPSTF’s recommendations have sparked a debate involving members of the American Cancer Society about whether or not mammograms should be automatically administered to women aged 40-49. Experts fear that health insurance companies may use the USPSTF’s guidelines as an excuse to limit preventative care to women who do not fall in the recommended age group. This issue falls mainly under the jurisdiction of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), “a group of elected or appointed state regulators who work to fairly determine what procedures insurance companies are required by law to cover.”
It is important that the NAIC does not allow health insurance companies to use the USPSTF’s recommendations for mammography screenings for women aged 50-74 as an excuse to not provide coverage for women outside of these age limits. High costs for preventative procedures could easily deter women from having mammograms, despite the fact that they may still be at risk for breast cancer. Studies show that mammograms decrease breast cancer mortalities by about 15 percent. If the NAIC allows insurance companies to not provide coverage for this life saving procedure, countless women will be put at greater risk for breast cancer related death.
Urge the NAIC to protect all women by requiring health insurance companies to offer preventative procedure coverage to women who fall outside the USPSTF’s age recommendations, but still elect to undergo mammography screenings.
Dear President Roger A. Sevigny,
Preventative measures, such as biennial mammography screenings, help to reduce breast cancer related deaths in women by 15 percent. Regular mammograms are key to early detection and treatment of breast cancer. However, these procedures can be very expensive when not covered by health care providers, which can deter women from receiving this vital care.
Recommendations by the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) state that women aged 50-74 should receive biennial mammography screenings. This fails to include women aged 40-49, a group that the American Cancer Society argues is still at high risk for contracting breast cancer.
The USPSTF’s recommendations allow room for health insurance companies to restrict coverage to women outside of the 50-74 age group, and could lead to an increased number of breast cancer related deaths as a result. Therefore, I urge you to not allow insurance companies to limit access to mammograms for women under 50 or over 74 years of age. Instead, empower women and doctors to decide what preventative measures are necessary by requiring health care providers to extend coverage to all age groups.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Federal Government via Wikimedia Commons