Law Mandates Insurance Coverage for Breast Reconstruction After Cancer Surgery

Breast Cancer Surgeon Dr. Jay Harness

Despite federal law mandating insurance companies cover reconstruction after breast cancer surgery, many reconstructive surgeons say a large number of women do not have the procedure performed, according to this release from Barnes Jewish Hospital of St. Louis:

A 2007 study by the Society of Breast Surgeons found fewer than 30 percent of women get breast reconstruction after mastectomy – an even smaller percentage opt for reconstruction after lumpectomy. The reason is thought to be that many don’t know the procedure is covered by insurance companies after it was made federal law through the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998.

Breast cancer surgeon Dr. Jay Harness, who specializes in breast reconstruction and emotional reconstruction for his patients, says this story serves as a reminder of the availability of breast reconstruction to women long after she may undergo a lumpectomy or mastectomy:

We often do an immediate breast reconstruction at the time of a lumpectomy or mastectomy. But for others there is no “statute of limitations” on when you may get a breast reconstruction. You can get a reconstruction any time after a mastectomy or lumpectomy as long as your specialist considers you okay to proceed.

Listen to learn more about mandated insurance coverage of reconstructive breast surgery by clicking on to this podcast featuring Terry Myckatyn, MD of Barnes Jewish Hospital.

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