June 3, 2010 - On May 26, WellPoint announced it will implement certain provisions of the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act (HR 1691), which aims to standardize minimum guidelines for care for women with breast cancer, although the bill is not yet law.
Beginning July 1, the insurer will guarantee minimum 48-hour hospital stays for policyholders after mastectomies. The bill will require a group health plan that provides medical and surgical benefits to ensure that inpatient (and in the case of a lumpectomy, outpatient) coverage and radiation therapy are provided for breast cancer treatment.
Although WellPoint said it already provides the legislation's minimum standard of care for most policyholders, the company noted that benefits can vary depending on state laws and clinical guidelines. The Obama administration has criticized WellPoint for routinely rescinding members' policies after they were diagnosed with breast cancer. By adopting the guidelines early, the insurer may set an example for other insurers.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), the bill's sponsor, applauded WellPoint's decision.