Good news  for members of medical schemes – certain medical aids are now approving and reimbursing Screening Mammography without requiring a referral from your doctor.  Mammography plays an essential role in detecting breast cancer at an early stage, up to two years before you or your doctor would be able to feel an abnormality in the breast tissue, but it’s taken quite a while for medical aids to allow this. Booking yourself in will simplify the process, especially for busy people who aren’t keen to spend needless time in doctors’ waiting rooms!

When you arrive for your Mammo screening, X-Ray Department staff will ask for your doctor’s details (GP or Specialist) so that they can send a report on your X-Ray or scan.  If your X-Ray indicates further management, the medical specialist in the X-Ray department will discuss this with you and explain what you should do – and will contact your doctor to let him or her know what’s happening. By the time you see your own doctor, he or she will have the pictures and the report, and will be ready to help you decide on the next step.  If all is well, your doctor will still get a report from the X-Ray Department and will thus know that everything is in order.

By easing the process in this way, medical aids are encouraging their members not to delay their regular Mammo screening (for more information on Screening Mammography and who should be screened, see our article). Port Elizabeth radiology firm Drs Visser, Erasmus, Vawda and Partners  believe that the medical aids have taken “a step in the right direction” with this new provision, because it helps to promote screening mammography and thus the early detection of breast cancer. Here at Bay Breast Care, we agree!  If you have any queries,  check http://www.bayradiology.co.za for contact details of your nearest X-Ray Department.

Meanwhile, it’s a good idea to call your medical aid, to find out if they are supporting this pro-screening  initiative. If they are, they deserve a pat on the back; if they aren’t, go right ahead and tell them it’s not good enough. If we women are ready to put our breasts on the table – literally! – then the least we can expect is that our medical aids will help us with an easy and cost effective process.

If you’ve never had a mammogram before, check out this video from BUPA in the UK which gives you some idea of what to expect:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2t_lW_PICl4