AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – A bill in the Texas Legislature would mandate that better mammograms be covered by insurance.
Connie Oliver, with Solis Mammography, says 3-D mammography is the new gold standard. An out-of-pocket screening can cost up to $150 more than regular mammograms.
Oliver says a conventional mammogram is like looking at all the pages of a book compressed — you can only see the front and back cover. But it’s different with 3-D mammography.
“Now imagine that someone flips the book open and you’re allowed to look at the breast page-by-page,” she explained. “You’re looking at 60 different images of the breast tissue – in slices. And that way you can see much more what’s going on behind the tissue and the density of the breast.”
HB 1036 would require all commercial insurance providers in the state to cover digital 3-D mammography for breast cancer screening and diagnosis.
Experts say 3-D mammograms increase the likelihood of finding abnormalities and that, Oliver says, saves lives. “With a 3-D mammogram a woman finds something when it is the size of a pea. Her treatment options are so much better than if she finds something when it’s the size of a walnut.”
According to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, 3-D mammogram releases the same amount of radiation as a traditional mammogram and causes no additional risk to the patient.
Medicare does offer coverage for 3-D mammograms. But currently only four states, Connecticut, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New York, have passed bills mandating that insurance pay for 3-D mammogram screenings.