Southeast Texas Record

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Bill looks to require insurance companies to cover 3-D mammography screenings

By Dawn Geske | Mar 30, 2017

Medical malpractice 05

ADDISON – An independent breast imaging provider is backing support of a Texas House bill to require all commercial insurance providers in the state to cover 3-D mammography.

Solis Mammography has announced its support of House Bill 1036, in conjunction with 3-D digital breast tomosynthesis for breast cancer screening and diagnosis. The bill, championed by Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) would require all commercial insurance providers in Texas to cover 3-D mammography.

“3-D mammography is the best and most-advanced technology for early detection of breast cancer,” Connie Oliver, vice president, marketing & client relations at Solis Mammography told The Record. “The earlier a mass is detected, the more options a woman has. Treatment at the earliest stage is likely to be less aggressive, less expensive, and with a better outcome. Early detection in breast cancer allows the possibility of avoiding chemotherapy, radiation, surgery or other invasive treatments.”

The current standard for breast cancer screening uses 2-D digital mammography, but several insurance companies have already adopted 3-D screening as part of their coverage. To date, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna and United Healthcare have announced that they will cover the technology or plan to do so in the near future.

“As compared to a traditional 2-D screening mammogram, which views the breast tissue through only a 'top/bottom' or 'side/side' compression, 3-D mammography provides the radiologist layers and depth to these views, essentially creating thin 'slices' of tissue, thus increasing the accuracy of a diagnoses,” Oliver said.

Several states beyond Texas have passed legislation requiring the coverage of 3-D mammography including Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and most recently New York. According to information published in the American Journal of Roentgenology in 2013, the effectiveness of 3-D mammography increases the effectiveness of early detection of breast cancer by 54 percent and decreases recall rates by 37 percent.

“Callbacks are sometimes misconstrued as a 'false positive,'” said Oliver. “The callback simply means that additional images are needed to ensure the most accurate result. Less than 10 percent of women who receive a callback are found to have breast cancer. However, there is a fiscal and emotional cost that comes with the callback. Research has shown 3-D mammography reduces callbacks by 37 percent saving time, money and unnecessary anxiety."

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved 3-D mammography in 2011, which was followed by Medicare’s decision to cover the technology in 2015. While more insurance companies are coming around to the technology and its benefits to women in early breast cancer detection, not all are covering the expense which ranges from $50 to $150, making the bill imperative to pass in Texas.

“If the bill is passed, all commercial insurance providers in Texas will be responsible for covering digital breast tomosynthesis, also known as 3-D mammography, for breast cancer screening and diagnosis,” said Oliver. “This means a woman who has insurance will be automatically covered for the best screening mammography available – thus ensuring her opportunity to receive the benefits of early detection or to gain the peace of mind that comes from the most accurate screening result possible.”

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