A Call for Fertility Preservation Coverage for Breast Cancer Patients: The Cost of Consistency.
J Natl Cancer Inst. 2017 May 01;109(5):
Authors: Walter JR, Xu S, Woodruff TK
In 1998, the passage of the Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act required insurance health plans nationwide covering breast cancer treatments to also reimburse for subsequent breast reconstructive surgery and prostheses. In response to low utilization of breast reconstructive services, particularly among racial minorities, plastic surgery interest groups successfully advocated for the passage of the Breast Cancer Patient Education Act, which provides a timely opportunity to reconsider patient accessibility to other equally important quality of life issues for cancer survivors. Currently, the potential threat of infertility as a consequence of cancer therapy does not meet preexisting definitions of infertility, making preemptive fertility preservation elective. Ultimately, cost remains the largest barrier to the pursuit of fertility preservation. In this Commentary, we estimate the potential additive cost of providing fertility preservation coverage for approximately 19 000 eligible women of reproductive age diagnosed with breast cancer based on previously published prevalence and cost data. We determine an upper limit of yearly cost of $126.6 million US dollars assuming 100% participation. Legislation providing mandatory insurance coverage of breast reconstruction surgeries in all 50 states following cancer treatment represents a powerful policy commitment to address existing health disparities in reproductive health services and ensures comprehensive cancer survivorship care. Extending coverage for fertility preservation in the setting of fertility-threatening treatment offers a consistent stance for insurance coverage of iatrogenic sequelae of cancer therapy at a fraction of the cost of breast reconstruction.
PMID: 28376233 [PubMed - in process]