It was shocking to hear the interview with a woman who was seeking the candidate’s opinion on mandatory insurance coverage for mammograms, which is a tool in diagnosing breast cancer. Mr. Christie was dismissive in saying that the cancer surgery the woman had when she was in her 20s was “an exception.” These situations are not exceptions as Mr. Christie may think, and the numbers prove it.
Medical professionals and patients agree that preventive care needs to be a priority as it saves lives and money in the longterm. Patients need confidence that their insurance providers will not find exclusions for coverage such as preexisting conditions, family history or some arbitrary notion that the patient is young and therefore considered “an exception.” We cannot undermine the need for access to screening techniques, whether mammograms, sonograms or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests, which are all available with today’s technology.
It is frightening to learn that Christie would give insurance companies free rein to drop coverage for critical procedures like mammograms. The woman from Rider is not “an exception” and a mandate is not an “extravagant benefit” for “young, single consumers,” as Mr. Christie stated on his Web site as of September 27, 2009.
Governor Jon Corzine, along with Senator Loretta Weinberg and other legislators have fought hard to assure that insurance companies provide adequate coverage for women’s health needs. In 1991, mandates were established for women over 40 years of age to be covered for annual mammograms. It has only been five years since insurance company mandates have been expanded to cover mammograms for women under 40 if they have a family history.
According to the National Cancer Institute 2005 and 2006 Fact Book, breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in young women ages 15-54. For 25 years we have recognized this month of October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month which promotes awareness, education and empowerment.
This movement has been stressing “early detection saves lives”. Many children are being raised by their mothers as a result of early detection. We cannot turn back the clock and allow any wiggle room for insurance companies to drop coverage for mammograms or other vital diagnostic tests. We need to continue advocating for staying healthy. It is the pillar of a strong society. Our future depends upon it. To that, there can be no exception.
Amy A. Mallet
Monmouth County Freeholder