As Americans mark this year the 25th anniversary of October as the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius released a new report, Health Insurance Reform and Breast Cancer: Making the Health Care System Work for Women. The report details how health insurance reform will help women diagnosed with breast cancer.Breast cancer patients face great uncertainty in the current health care system. Women diagnosed with breast cancer, whether insured or not, face significant and sometimes devastating hurdles to receiving timely, affordable treatmentCommenting on breast cancer and how this adversely impacts patients and their family, Secretary Sebelius noted: ?Thousands of women and their families are impacted by breast cancer. We are fighting for health reform that will help improve treatment for women with breast cancer and doing all we can to encourage women to take the simple steps that can help prevent this disease.?The new report highlights the problems in the health care status quo that significantly impact women who are diagnosed with breast cancer or are breast cancer survivors.According to the American Cancer Society, Breast cancer is the second leading type of cancer among women. The disease will affect one in eight American women during their lifetime, with treatment costs totaling $7 Billion in 2007. Older women are more likely to develop breast cancer, as well as women who are obese and those who have a history of cancer in their family. This year alone, an estimated 192,370 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 40,170 will die from the disease, making it the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women.The affordability of treatment is often a concern for women diagnosed with breast cancer. Rising health care costs have left a growing number of Americans either uninsured or with less meaningful coverage than they need and deserve. The results of a recent survey estimated that 72 million, or 41%, of nonelderly adults have accumulated medical debt or had difficulty paying medical bills in the past year ? and 61% of those experiencing difficulty paying medical bills had health insurance. Breast cancer patients with employer-based insurance had total out-of-pocket costs averaging $6,250 in 2007, higher than out-of-pocket spending for patients with asthma, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or high blood pressure.Breast cancer patients, even when in remission, are unlikely to find meaningful insurance coverage in the individual insurance market. A full 11 percent of individuals with any cancer said they could not obtain health coverage in the individual insurance market.?Today, breast cancer patients incur thousands of dollars in debt, and breast cancer survivors struggle to get the affordable care they need,? Sebelius added. ?Health insurance reform will bring costs down, make care more affordable and prevent insurance companies from discriminating against breast cancer survivors.?

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