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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Cancer Screening and Prevention Under Health Reform

Your chances of surviving cancer are much better when you find it early. The Affordable Care Act makes it possible for you to have free cancer screening tests.

Cancer screening tests are a type of preventive medical service. They are included as part of the essential health benefits that must be covered by any health plan you enroll in from your state's health insuranceMarketplace. In fact, plans must offer certain free cancer screening tests if they want to be part of the Marketplace.

Free Cancer Screening Tests

Experts have learned that screening tests for certain types of cancer can save lives. Here's what you need to know about screenings for some common cancers.

Breast cancer . Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. It is also the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women. Mammograms can help find breast cancer early. This screening is just one part of preventive care women can get without having to pay a copay or coinsurance.

Check with your insurance company to find out your coverage. Some plans only cover mammograms every two years, and others pay for them every year. Under some plans, you have to be 40 or older to receive a free mammogram. The American Cancer Society recommends that you wait until age 45 to have a mammogram. If you are high-risk, you might be able to receive a mammogram earlier

Insurance plans that existed before March 2010 might not offer free mammograms. Always check your coverage before scheduling a screening test.

Cervical cancer . Regular Pap tests and tests for HPV, the human papillomavirus, can help find cervical cancer early.

The Affordable Care Act requires that most private health plans provide Pap tests and cervical cancer screening without asking women to pay a copay or coinsurance. Women older than 30 may have HPV testing every 3 years, regardless of Pap smear results.

Private health plans that were in place before the law was passed in March 2010 are the exceptions. These "grandfathered plans" don't have to offer free tests. Some of them may do it anyway, though. Check your plan's summary of benefits, or call your insurer if you aren't sure if your plan is grandfathered.

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