Monday, June 15, 2009

Would Health Care Reform Deem My Mammogram Necessary Before Age 40?

Today, President Obama spoke to the AMA about Healthcare Reform. I agree that something needs to be done about healthcare. My husband lost his job in November. His company covered our health insurance through January 31st and COBRA kicked in on February 1st. Unfortunately, our 18 month old daughter had to take an ambulance ride to the emergency room on February 1st and, to the hospital, it looked as if we weren't covered by insurance. The ambulance ride bill was $1,800. The unisured patient discount was $1,500. We were officially charged the difference. However, once COBRA did kick in, the insurance company paid the fee and we did not pay anything. No one can argue that the ambulance ride uninsured charge and discount demonstrates a breakdown in our system, however, this same February, a new doctor sent me, 37 years old, for my first mammogram. She didn't feel anything, she just thought I should have a baseline mammogram. They found something so small it couldn't be felt, but after my biopsy was performed in the office with results back to me 30 minutes later, I was told that I had breast cancer. I made the decision to have a bilateral mastectomy and was able to find a surgeon and have the surgery 6 weeks later. Now I am undergoing chemotherapy.While I understand that President Obama's plan places an emphasis on preventitive care, most doctors don't send their patients for their first mammogram until age 40. My oncologist and cancer surgeons both told me that my cancer was fast-growing and could have been a much more dire situation if it had it been been detected a year, much less three years, later. Who knows whether my doctor would have felt comfortable sending me for the mammogram when she did if she had to worry about penalties for "unneccessary tests." Who knows whether those people, like me, who do not fall into a "high risk" category would be allowed to go for such tests before age 40? I want my doctors to feel comfortable sending me for any tests they deem important, whether an insurance company or the governement feels otherwise. This doctor and this test saved my life and to me, that is very necessary.

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