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What is BRA Day and Why Does it Matter to Breast Cancer Patients?October 20, 2015 by Dr. Kirby
This October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an opportunity to both offer support to women living with breast cancer and also to provide education about the decisions that they face, including breast reconstruction. Breast Reconstruction Awareness (BRA) Day was created to help women with breast cancer understand their options and to learn about their rights as breast reconstruction patients.
What BRA Day Means for Breast Cancer Patients
The history of BRA day is closely tied to the financial aspects of breast cancer care, which is a large concern for many of my breast reconstruction patients. Unfortunately, many women are unaware of their insurance rights as breast reconstruction patients.
As a board certified plastic surgeon, it is my priority to ensure that my breast reconstruction patients are not only well taken care of, but also fully informed of their rights in pursuing high quality care. To that end, and in support of BRA Day, I would like to provide an overview of the financial rights of a breast reconstruction patient.
Insurance & Breast Reconstruction: Your Financial Rights
The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act is a federal law requiring most group insurance plans that cover mastectomies to also cover breast reconstruction. The act was signed into law on Oct. 21, 1998 (now commemorated as BRA Day) and has helped millions of women receive the care they need and deserve without the burden of excessive healthcare costs.
To further protect women’s right to expert reconstructive care and the opportunity to restore a natural appearance to the breasts, insurance companies are also required to pay for surgeries that restore balance and symmetry following mastectomy. This means that even if a patient has a unilateral (one-sided) mastectomy, the insurance company must cover surgery necessary to match the appearance of the opposite breast. This may include augmentation, reduction, or a lift.
Finding Compassionate, Expert Care
Breast reconstruction is a highly personal process and is not one-size-fits-all—patients and surgeons must work closely together throughout the process. Finding a well-informed, skilled plastic surgeon who has extensive experience with breast reconstruction is essential to beginning the process. As a female plastic surgeon, I have perspective on both the physical and emotional impact of breast cancer and mastectomy. This understanding is complemented by years of experience working with women pursuing breast reconstruction after mastectomy. I am happy to provide insight and guidance to women as they evaluate their options.
If you are considering breast reconstruction surgery in Fort Worth and want to learn more about your options, please contact my office to learn more. We will be here to help you every step of the way.
To help support breast reconstruction research and awareness efforts, I encourage you to consider donating to the Breast Reconstruction Awareness Fund.