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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.”
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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.