What is a mammogram?
Mammography is an X-ray breast exam that uses radiation to create images of the breast. These images are called mammograms. Mammography is the most effective screening tool used to find breast cancer in most women. It can find cancers at an early stage, when the chances of survival are highest.
A radiologist is trained to read mammograms, study the images, and look for signs of breast cancer. They will interpret the results of the mammogram and inform your doctor about your status. When to start breast cancer screening depends on certain factors such as your age, and health and family history.
Costs for Uninsured Patients
For an uninsured patient, the typical full-price cost of a mammogram ranges from $80 to $400 or more, with an average of about $102, according to Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. Some providers charge more, and while others may offer an uninsured discount. For example, patients who book their self-pay mammograms at Medmo can find cash-pay discounts for their breast exams.
Mammograms usually are covered by health insurance for women in the recommended age bracket. Many states require health insurance companies to cover regular mammograms, usually after age 40. For women covered by health insurance, some plans require no out-of-pocket expenses, while others charge a copay, generally between $10 and $35.
Low-cost or Free Programs
If you aren’t insured or don’t meet the criteria for coverage, that doesn’t mean you have to go without. A number of options are available for free or low-cost mammograms. Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance companies cover the cost of annual screening mammograms.
Since September 2010, the Affordable Care Act has required all new health insurance plans to cover screening mammograms every 1-2 years for women ages 40 and older, with no out-of-pocket costs (copayments or coinsurance).
If you don’t have insurance or your insurance doesn’t cover mammograms, the resources below may help you find a low-cost or free mammogram (or help with the cost).
- The Komen Breast Care Helpline can help you find low-cost breast cancer screening in your area. Call the helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636) Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET.
- The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program provides access to breast cancer screening to low-income, uninsured and underinsured women ages 40-64. It also provides access to diagnostic testing if results are abnormal, and referrals to treatment if breast cancer is diagnosed.
Shopping for a Mammogram
If you have health insurance, consult with your general practitioner or gynecologist to get a diagnostic mammogram and/or a clinical breast exam. If you are uninsured or even underinsured (high deductibles, low coverage), it may be helpful to contact multiple imaging centers to find the best price for your mammogram. This is called price comparison shopping and helps patients save thousands of dollars each year on their healthcare costs. Be sure to check with your local Susan G. Komen for the Cure affiliate to get more information on planned screening events. Local health departments or women’s health organizations such as Planned Parenthood also have online search features to help you find a local clinic.
For mammograms, the American Cancer Society recommends using a facility that performs many mammograms each day, and is authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to perform mammograms. All Medmo affiliated imaging centers have accreditations from the American College of Radiology (ACR) or the Intersocietal Accreditation Committee (IAC). These organizations set national standards for quality and patient safety.
Why should I get a mammogram?
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), in 2021, more than 281,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the United States. Roughly 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Mammography rates in the US differ depending on where you live, as shown by the figure below, courtesy of the Kaiser Foundation.
Routine screening and diagnostic testing with mammograms help doctors detect breast cancer early. Early detection is the key to treating breast cancer before it spreads, which improves survival rates.
Understanding the cost and value of breast cancer screening is important to make them more accessible which then gets better outcomes for the disease.
To book a scan, visit us at Medmo.com. Medmo helps people schedule radiology imaging tests – such as MRI, CT scans, PET, and more – at nearby accredited centers and identify the payment solution that works best for them.