How the ACA helped doctors detect breast cancer earlier

We crack out pink ribbons and t-shirts each October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but do we know how important legislation can be for those fighting it?

Here’s how the Affordable Care Act helped more breast cancer patients get treatment earlier:

Saving lives

When the ACA became law in 2011, co-payments and other out-of-pocket costs were cut for 45 preventive services — including mammograms. That meant it was more affordable for more women to schedule screenings.

Over just two years, the detection rate of stage 1 cancer increased by 3.6 percent. While that number may seem small, these diagnoses improved the prognosis for thousands of women.

Though the study focused on breast cancer, one of the most common forms of cancer among women, it also found an increase in screenings for colorectal and cervical cancers because of free colonoscopies and Pap tests.

Cutting costs

The ACA promoted preventative services, helping doctors catch cancer earlier. This meant patients and their healthcare providers could avoid the invasive and costly treatments that come with later stages of the disease.

But, that all could change. This month the Senate is debating the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), a bill that could increase the costs of preventative services for patients.

Increased costs could lead to lower screening rates for disease, and lower detection rates to boot. At the end of the day, that means increased expenses for the entire health care system.

Read more about how the ACA helped women battle breast cancer.

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