MYNORTHWEST NEWS

No more co-pays for breast cancer screenings in Washington

Jun 19, 2023, 3:50 PM | Updated: Jun 20, 2023, 9:56 am

breast cancer screenings Washington...

FILE - A radiologist uses a magnifying glass to check mammograms for breast cancer in Los Angeles, May 6, 2010. U.S. women getting mammograms will soon receive information about their breast density, which can sometimes make cancer harder to spot, under government rules finalized Thursday, March 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

Washington state will soon eliminate co-pays on more kinds of breast cancer screenings. It’s a move a State Senator predicts will save lives.

Co-pays have already been removed from mammogram screenings. But under State Senator Lynda Wilson’s bill that was passed by the Legislature this session, “Women will not have to pay co-pays or any cost sharing for an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or an ultrasound if it’s needed.”

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Insurance companies will have to cover it.

Co-pays for an ultrasound can cost $10 – $50. For an MRI, they can range from $20 – $100.

“For many women, it’s just too expensive,” Wilson said.

The Republican from Vancouver says it’s enough to prompt some women to think twice about additional screening, which could endanger their lives.

“Because we know that early detection saves lives, and so this (new law) helps with early detection,” Wilson said.

Wilson speaks from experience.

“Four and a half years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I did have to go further,” Wilson said.

Wilson said she found the lump herself and confirmed it was a tumor through a mammogram. An MRI helped determine how large the tumor was.

Wilson said she’s now working on a bill that would eliminate co-pays for bio-marker testing on tumors.

She said that kind of testing can help doctors determine what kind of cancer you have and whether or not you’d have the same outcome with or without chemotherapy.

She explained that chemo can be life-saving but is very hard on the body. She said she wants women to be able to make a more informed choice about their treatment.

According to Wilson’s office, the new “MRI, ultrasound law” takes effect July 23, which is 90 days after the end of the last legislative session.

Follow Heather Bosch on Twitter or email her here.

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