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  • 5 things you should know about Obamacare and cancer

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  • This year, approximately 232,000 women in America will be diagnosed with breast cancer, according to information from the American Cancer Society. Look around at your group of friends. The National Cancer Institute says that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
    Coming in 2014, the Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as “Obamacare,” could make it easier to detect, diagnose and treat breast cancer. Reforms could make it easier for Americans to obtain — and pay for — health coverage, and could prevent insurance providers from making cancer care prohibitively expensive.
    Here are five things you need to know about how Obamacare is impacting not only breast cancer care, but health care for all cancer patients.
    1. ABOUT PREVENTION
    Starting in 2014, insurance plans will be required to cover cancer screenings and other proven preventive services, according to information from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.
    And many plans, including Medicaid, Medicare and any plans purchased on the Health Care Marketplace or Exchange, must cover preventive care at no cost to patients — that means no co-pay or coinsurance required.
    Preventive care includes a mammogram every one to two years for women older than 40 and cervical cancer screenings for sexually active women. Women with a family history of breast and ovarian cancer also can receive BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic testing and counseling.
    Early detection of breast cancer is critical: The five-year relative survival rate is 98 percent when breast cancer is detected early, but 24 percent when caught in the late stages of the disease, according to the Cancer Action Network.
    In the past year, only 17 percent of underinsured or uninsured women older than age 40 had a mammogram, compared to 55 percent of women with adequate insurance, the Cancer Action Network stated.
    Preventative care also encompasses vaccines, including the human papilloma virus or HPV vaccine. According to the National Cancer Institute, HPV is the cause of almost all cervical cancers, as well as other cancers. Women also can have yearly well-woman exams and won’t need a referral to see an in-network OB-GYN.
    The Cancer Action Network is nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group that advances the goals of the American Cancer Society.
    2. ABOUT SAYING GOODBYE TO COVERAGE LIMITS
    Starting Jan. 1, insurance companies can no longer put yearly or lifetime limits on the amount of money they’ll spend on essential health care such as prescription drugs and cancer treatments, according to HealthCare.gov, the site of the new Health Insurance Marketplace and the federal government’s hub for Obamacare information.
    That means cancer patients won’t have to worry about their insurance benefits running out, or face difficult decisions such as choosing between delaying treatment until next year or paying for treatments, medication and side effects out of pocket, according to the Society.
    Page 2 of 2 - 3. ABOUT PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS
    Beginning in 2014, having a pre-existing condition such as cancer can no longer stop you from getting health insurance. And insurance companies can no longer charge a sick person more than a healthy one, or a woman more than a man, for coverage.
    Providers will be required to immediately cover treatment for pre-existing conditions and can no longer refuse to do so, even if they denied you coverage in the past, according to HealthCare.gov. Those rules also apply to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
    In 2010, the health care law also established the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan to give temporary coverage to those who were turned down because of a pre-existing condition. Those plans will end Dec. 31.
    If your insurance does deny a claim, you’ll have the right to appeal that decision and ask for an internal, and an external, review, according to HealthCare.gov.
    4. ABOUT CANCELING COVERAGE
    The health care law prevents insurance companies from arbitrarily canceling your health insurance because you get sick or make an error, according to HealthCare.gov.
    If providers found someone had made a mistake, even a minor one, on his insurance application, they could cancel coverage, declare policies invalid from the day they started or ask people to pay back any money the company had spent on health care. The law makes these rescissions illegal.
    Insurance companies can still cancel plans if someone purposefully fills out false or incomplete information, or if someone doesn’t pay their premium, but must give them 30 days’ notice so they can find another provider, according to HealthCare.gov.
    “In other words, you can’t lose your insurance for developing cancer,” said the society in a statement on the benefits of Obamacare for cancer patients.
    5. ABOUT INFORMATION AND EDUCATION
    In 2010, Obamacare established a Prevention and Public Health Fund to establish programs such as prevention research, health screenings, and public education and outreach campaigns. It also established a public education campaign on breast health for young women, according to the Cancer Action Network.
    Early education could benefit thousands of Americans. Each year, about 70,000 young men and women, ages 15-39, are diagnosed with cancer. Breast cancer is the most common type for that age group, according to the Young Survival Coalition, a nonprofit focused on women age 40 and younger who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
    More than 1,200 women younger than 40 die from breast cancer each year, according to the organization.
    Jessica Holbrook writes for the Canton, Ohio, Repository.

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