Bill requires insurers in Illinois to cover prostate cancer screenings

LaShawn Ford

State Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, sponsored the bill. He is a prostate cancer survivor. | Photo courtesy of Ballotpedia

Legislation awaiting the governor’s signature aims to increase access to prostate cancer screening without co-pays or other cost-sharing in Illinois.  

House Bill 5318 would require private insurers in Illinois to provide all qualifying male policyholders with an annual prostate cancer screening upon the recommendations of a physician.

Alison Manson, vice president of government relations for the cancer awareness group ZERO, said eliminating out-of-pocket costs for prostate cancer screening removes a key barrier to early prostate cancer diagnosis.

“There is plenty of research to show that even a small amount of cost sharing, something on the measure of a $5 co-pay, can be a barrier to receiving care,” said Manson. 

The bill was sponsored by State Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, who is a prostate cancer survivor. The cancer was discovered when Ford was only 48 years old.

African American men are almost two times more likely than white men to develop prostate cancer in their lives.

Manson said Illinois is part of a growing momentum around the country.

“So far it’s Maryland, Rhode Island and New York with other states considering similar measures,” said Manson. “We are in the early days, but it is a no-brainer. You catch prostate cancer early and you catch it while it is still treatable, you save lives and it’s a win for everyone.” 

The American Urological Association estimates that more than 10,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year.

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