Insurance Companies Now Required To Cover Mammograms From Age 35 Up
On Aug. 2, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation requiring large group to cover all medically necessary mammograms for women age 35 to 39 in New York state. Under current law, many insurance companies are only required to cover mammograms for women older than 40. The measure is known as Shannon’s Law after Shannon Saturno, a Babylon woman who died from breast cancer at age 31. Sen. Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood), who sponsored the bill, says it’s imperative to ensure that women under 40 have access to potentially life-saving early screening.
David I. Kaufman, M.D., FACS, chief of breast surgery and director of the Breast Health Center St. Joseph Hospital, reacted to the news. He said, “As a breast cancer surgeon on Long Island, I care for many women under the age of 40 who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. The incidence of breast cancer in this younger age group is increasing, and when it does occur it tends to be more aggressive. In order to save lives, regardless of age, we need early detection. This new legislation will help us protect them from this devastating disease. I applaud Governor Cuomo and Senator Martinez for proposing and passing this very important legislation.”
As you can imagine, young women across Long Island are ecstatic to hear this news as well, including North Babylon resident Shannan Fitzgerald, 32. In January 2019, (when she was 31) Shannan felt a lump on her left breast. Dr. Kaufman biopsied her breast and uncovered that Shannan had breast cancer and that there were multiple tumors in her breast.
Dr. Kaufman credits the mammogram for saving Shannan’s life but says there is still much work to do. Both Dr. Kaufman and Shannan hope the next step is to change the age to an even lower number, as early detection has proven to saves lives. Dr. Kaufman adds, “had Shannan been able to get annual mammograms at an earlier age, we could have potentially avoided the extent of her cancer which ultimately lead to a mastectomy and the need for chemotherapy.”
The Breast Health Center offers a wide variety of screening, diagnostic and treatment tools. For more information or to make an appointment with Dr. Kaufman, call 516-520-2500.