ZERO leads effort to help Maryland make history, becoming the second state in the nation to eliminate cost-sharing for prostate cancer screenings
News Release, Zero Cancer
ANNAPOLIS, MD, May 6, 2020 –ZERO – The End of Prostate Canceris proud to have led significant advocacy efforts in the state of Maryland that have resulted in new lifesaving legislation. Starting in 2021, health insurers in each Maryland County must cover the full costs of prostate cancer screenings for men ages 40-75. This legislation gives prostate cancer parity to several women’s cancers (including breast and ovarian) which offer screenings with no attached co-pays or other cost-sharing fees. Senator Malcolm Augustine and Delegate Erek L. Barron sponsored the effort.
“This critical bill can save the lives of many Maryland men, as Maryland hadthe eighth-highest incidence rate of prostate cancer in the nation last year,” said ZERO CEO Jamie Bearse. “Removing barriers — especially financial roadblocks — makes early detection more accessible and affordable for men, and helps save lives. Early detection is key to survival as 99 percent of men survive at least five years when prostate cancer is caught early.”
On the contrary, when prostate cancer is not caught until late-stage, it has only a 30 percent five-year survival rate. Often, there are no symptoms of prostate cancer before it reaches a late-stage, making early detection essential.
In an op-ed published earlier this spring in The Baltimore Sun, Senator Augustine and Delegate Barron purported that, “There is no better time to make screenings for this devastating disease more accessible and affordable as prostate cancer deaths and incidences are on the rise. This year in Maryland, nearly 4,500 men will be diagnosed with the disease — a number that’s already up 5% from last year.”
This legislation was supported by Maryland’s insurers, as it would have a nominal impact on their bottom line. A Maryland Healthcare Commission study found that eliminating cost-sharing for these tests would only cost insurers three cents per month or 35 cents per year on premiums. Further, early screening has been proven to be more cost-effective than treating late stages of the disease in multiple studies.
ZERO is grateful to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan for his support of the new legislation. ZERO is also grateful to the Maryland General Assembly for passing the bill, and to bill sponsors Senator Augustine and Delegate Barron for championing this effort.
Similar efforts to eliminate cost-sharing for prostate cancer screening are already underway elsewhere with the help of ZERO. Earlier this spring, Illinois introduced a similar effort, and advocates in California plan to push cost-sharing legislation later this year. In both states, ZERO will lead the effort with grassroots advocacy and support from the community. For more information on advocacy efforts regarding prostate cancer across the nation, visit zerocancer.org/advocacy.