A statement by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time to rededicate ourselves to lessening the impact of the most common cancer affecting women. Breast cancer is also the second leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States, after lung cancer.
All women are at risk for breast cancer. A woman in the United States has a 1 in 8 chance of developing invasive breast cancer in her lifetime.
But when breast cancer is caught early and treated, survival rates can be near 100 percent. That is why, it is critical that we ensure access to screening and, when necessary, high-quality treatment for everyone.
With the help of the Affordable Care Act, we are beginning to make progress towards overcoming some of the most significant barriers to access, screening, and quality treatment. The health care law already requires most health plans to cover certain recommended preventive services at no out-of-pocket cost. This means that women can get free annual mammograms, and those who are at increased risk of developing breast cancer can get genetic counseling at no additional cost.
Starting in 2014, a woman cannot be denied coverage because of a pre-existing health condition, like breast cancer. Also, it will be illegal to charge a woman more for the same coverage than a man.
Being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing condition! These new protections will go a long way toward improving the health and well-being of our nation.
This month marks the beginning of the six-month-long open enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplaces. Millions of uninsured American women and men now have the opportunity to sign up for quality, affordable health coverage that meets their needs and budget. Coverage begins as early as Jan. 1, 2014.
For the very first time, Americans can go to one place to get accurate information on different plans and make apples-to-apples comparisons on benefits, quality, and cost. Learn about the Marketplaces and the new health insurance options at HealthCare.gov.
In addition to this increased access to screening and care, our nation has made a tremendous investment in biomedical research. As a result, there have been dramatic improvements in breast cancer treatment, with many women and men living long and productive lives well after their treatment has ended.
Through ongoing research, the health care law, and the Marketplaces, we will be able to save more lives and improve the quality of life for Americans with breast cancer. During Breast Cancer Awareness month, let's take the time to appreciate the progress we've made against this disease and work even harder to help all those affected by it.