Oklahoma to Require Insurance Coverage for Mammograms

Article excerpt

Oklahoma will soon join other states by requiring insurers to cover annual mammograms for women starting at age 40 under legislation approved by the 2001 Legislature.

Most physicians recommend annual screenings when women turn 40, but many private Oklahoma insurance companies do not offer coverage until after age 50.

Every other state in the nation begins offering yearly mammogram screenings for Medicaid patients beginning at age 40, but in Oklahoma, a woman must be at least 50 years old, said Sen. Larry Dickerson, D-Poteau, author of Senate Bill 711. Considering how critical early detection is in fighting breast cancer, this was something we really needed to address.

House author is Rep. Jari Askins, D-Duncan. The bill takes effect July 1.

Each year in Oklahoma more than 2,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer. Thirty percent die from the disease, chiefly due to discovery too late for successful treatment.

Of women who discover the disease in its early stages, 97 percent will survive.

Under the new law, private insurers will be required to cover mammogram screenings each year for women 40 years of age and older, once every five years for those between 35 and 40. …