New Bright Pink Data Reveals Working Women Like Their Health Plan But Aren’t Aware of Breast Cancer Screening Coverage Gaps

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1 in 5 HR professionals inaccurately report their breast cancer screening coverage.

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Employee benefits managers should ask their insurance plan if they cover 3D mammography exams for breast cancer screening rather than just assume they’re covered.

New opinion research conducted for Bright Pink finds that working women and employee benefits managers are largely satisfied with their health plans because they assume the plans cover the most advanced screening technology for early detection of breast cancer. Ninety-six percent of the 1,500 women surveyed strongly agree that early detection of breast cancer is important and 86 percent strongly agree their screening should use the most advanced technology available. However, many respondents are unaware that their company health plans may not cover breast tomosynthesis, also known as 3D mammography exams, which is recommended as an option for breast cancer screening by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN).

“We talked to women and HR professionals at many major corporations that are listed as good workplaces for women and should have a strong interest in guaranteeing access to the preventive services that keep women healthy,” said Sarah Storey, President of Bright Pink. “With our mission of prevention and early detection, we believe access to breast cancer screening is critical for delivering better outcomes for women who are diagnosed. Our research shows that working women and employee benefits managers strongly support access to 3D mammography exams without additional out-of-pocket costs to women.”

While the research finds very strong support for breast cancer screening and 3D mammograms, it also reveals that some employee benefits managers assume incorrectly that their health plans cover the better mammograms. One in five HR professionals inaccurately report their company covers 3D mammograms when their health plan provider, in fact, does not. Another 31 percent don’t know if 3D mammograms are covered by their company’s plan.

In addition, working women seem unaware that they lack coverage. Ninety-four percent of women are somewhat or very satisfied with their plan’s coverage of women’s health services. But only one national plan (Cigna) covers 3D mammography exams. This means that the majority of working women are enrolled in health plans that don’t cover 3D mammography exams for breast cancer screening.

“We all want to believe that we have great insurance coverage, but unfortunately plans rarely boast about what they don’t cover,” Storey noted. “Employee benefits managers should ask their insurance plan if they cover 3D mammography exams for breast cancer screening rather than just assume they’re covered – and if they are covered, they should let the women on their plan know.”

The research, conducted by APCO Insight in September 2016, included 1,500 interviews of women aged 30-65 who work for large companies, and 51 employee benefits managers at large companies. The survey of working women reveals:

  • Ninety-six percent of working women say it is very important that their mammogram detect cancer as early as possible, use the most advanced technology available and be covered by insurance.
  • Black women, who are at greater risk than white women of dying of breast cancer, are particularly supportive of early detection and 98 percent say it is very important for their mammogram to detect cancer as early as possible.
  • Forty-eight percent of women who have had a mammogram were called back for additional tests – since 3D mammogram exams reduce unnecessary call backs by 15 percent, this number could be lower if more women had access to the better mammogram.

Employee benefits managers are equally supportive of access to the best mammogram technology, especially as it helps detect breast cancer early and reduce false alarms. In addition, most are willing to act in support of 3D coverage. Six in ten employee benefits managers are willing to reach out to their health plans or their company management to get 3D mammograms covered.

“We’re very encouraged by this willingness to advocate on behalf of the women in their workforce,” Storey said. “This research validates Bright Pink’s strategy of working with employers to educate women about breast and ovarian health – and it shows that they can reinforce that education by proactively working to make sure their health insurance plan covers the better mammogram for early detection of breast cancer.”

About Bright Pink®

Bright Pink is a national non-profit focused on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women. The organization’s mission is to save women’s lives from breast and ovarian cancer by empowering them to live proactively at a young age. Bright Pink’s innovative programs educate and equip young women to assess their risk for breast and ovarian cancer, reduce their risk, and detect these diseases at early, non life-threatening stages. Recently launched, ExploreYourGenetics.org, provides women comprehensive information about genetic testing and breast and ovarian cancer-influencing mutations. Founded in 2007, Bright Pink strives to reach the 52 million women in the US between the ages of 18-45 with this life-saving education. Put Awareness In Action™ at BrightPink.org.

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Erin Williams
@BeBrightPink
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