New Missouri law improves healthcare access for women

New legislation crossed the finish line in Missouri which local doctors will save many women's lives
Published: Jul. 14, 2023 at 4:11 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 14, 2023 at 6:26 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. New legislation crossed the finish line in Missouri which local doctors believe will save many women’s lives.

A new Missouri law will take away the cost of diagnostic screenings that help catch it early.

Dr. Joe Severs is the Director of Breast Radiology at St. Francis Hospital in Cape Girardeau. Dr. Severs said this will make these kinds of studies more affordable.

“It makes those studies now free of co-pay and deductible, so in essence no out of pocket cost,” Dr. Severs said.

Right now, insurance may not cover anything more than your yearly screening mammogram.

“When you had a screening mammogram and they found an abnormality, or if you had a symptom so you weren’t in the screening pool, you were coming in for a diagnostic mammogram,” Dr. Severs said. “That was not covered.”

Any additional tests beyond that yearly screening are costly.

“On average it’s about $234 out of pocket cost for a diagnostic mammogram, and a little over a thousand dollars out of pocket for an MRI of the breast,” Dr. Severs said. “And that’s with insurance.”

Oncologist Dr. Michael Naughton at St. Francis said it’s not a small number of women who require these extra tests.

“About ten percent of the time there will be an abnormality that needs follow up,” Dr. Naughton said.

“Here at St. Francis, we typically do ten to twenty diagnostic studies a day,” Dr. Severs said.

Both Doctors said that this legislation is improving healthcare access for women.

“Cost is a big issue and cost concerns are a big issue,” Dr. Naughton said.

Dr. Severs has seen it firsthand.

“You know some women just say ‘I can’t do it, if I have to choose between eating and rent and getting this study.’” Dr. Severs said. “Oftentimes other things in life have to come first.”

Dr. Naughton said eliminating the money barrier can help doctors catch cancer signs earlier.

“Mammograms are reducing disease burden and saving lives,” Dr. Naughton said. “Having mammograms available where women know they can access them, they’re not worried they’re going to break the bank to do that is going to encourage more women to participate and hopefully be diagnosed earlier.”

To find out if you are covered, contact your insurance provider. This law takes effect in the Show-Me State starting January 1, 2024.