Fo following a series of stories by consumer reporter anna werner, cbs has heard more about high bills for mammograms and other imaging tests than for perhaps any other issue we've covered.
Now we're hearing about this problem again from women who face bills for hundreds of dollars, some of whom are hurting financially because of the pandemic.
The last thing stay-at-home mom rachel schmidt expected during the pandemic was a bill for her first screening mammogram - a test that under the affordable care act is supposed to be paid for... i'd always heard that, you know, the screenings after 40 were covered.
And so it was just i was just shell shocked.
She went in for that test in august.
But after she mentioned some tenderness around a lump, staff told her she'd have to come back a month later instead for a "diagnostic mammogram - one that's more detailed - plus an ultrasound.
But then came the bill: nearly $1200 dollars her insurance company refused to pay.
And i've been calling anyone i can, to just get some answers as to what's going on.
And have you gotten any answers?
Insurance was pretty much cut and dry, it's diagnostic, we don't pay for it.
Not only that, she says, although her husband's still working, the pandemic cost her job as a teaching assistant at her children's school.
So it hits pretty hard.
Like we we don't have a lot of emergency savings left.
Many other women nationwide have told us the same: that their doctors ordered a test their insurance company says doesn't fit the definition of a screening mammogram - like aagnostic mammogram, an ultrasound, or an mri - and they've wound up with bills for hundreds of dollars.
That's despite the fact that nearly half of women over 40 have dense breast tissue - and experts say regular mammograms miss more than 50 percent of cancers in women with dense breasts.
Women like mary canney, who says of standard mammograms..
They did not pick up my breast cancers both times.
In both cases, canney felt lumps, later confirmed as cancers by additional screening tests... the second time, in 2014, after a supposdely negative mammogram... i found the lump within a month and i went right away to have it checked out and it was cancerous.
I can't trust the regular mammograms. because of that, this year, her oncologist ordered a more advanced 3d mammogram.
But after the test, she got the bill ... 956 dollars.
The reason: her insurance company said the test was coded as diagnostic, not screening.
We can afford to we can afford to pay the the for the mammogram, but we don't feel that it is right or fair.
Even worse, canney and other women say the high bills have given them pause... i shared my story with my friends on facebook, and i had so many comments saying, wow, now i'm going to think twice about going.
And i said, please don't.
But then when it's also going to cost your family, you know, that amount of money.
You put it off sometimes, so.
A recent study shows the potential human costs of putting those tests off... quest diagnostics looed at its own numbers of newly- diagnosed cancer patients served through lab tests... and found as many as 20 percent of women with breast cancer may have been going undiagnosed since may.
Medical director dr. harvey kaufman&.
They've missed their mammograms. they missed their physician visits, and they have cancer.
And for some, it will have tragic consequences.
In march, republican senator roy blunt and democratic senator jeanne shaheen told us they'd introduced legisilation to cover all diagnostic tests in the law... in part due to our reporting... well, i was watching your piece when you were talking about the fact that so many insurance companies don't cover diagnostic breast exams. and i said, well, we should do something about that.
But progress on their bill, too, has been delayed... i think if anything anna, this problem has gotten bigger because people have put off tests, they have let things progress in ways that they wouldn't have otherwise.
I'd like to solve the problem.
Suggested outcue: canney told us she fought her bill with blue cross and blue shield of minnesota for three months without success.
After we reached out to them, her problem was quickly resolved.
The company says the mammogram quickly resolved.
The company says the