ARKANSAS (KFSM) -- A new state law now requires health insurers to offer 3-D mammograms and breast ultrasounds to women in Arkansas with no co-pay.
Act 708 was passed by both chambers of the Arkansas Legislature and signed into law by Governor Asa Hutchinson in March.
The law took effect on Aug. 1.
In the past, 3-D mammograms, which have been found to be more successful than 2-D imaging, were not always covered by insurance providers.
At The Breast Center in Fayetteville, a 3-D mammogram without health insurance would cost about $400.
The advanced technology gives doctors a better view of breast tissue, which can allow them to find any problems more efficiently than traditional methods.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women in Arkansas.
Numbers from the National Cancer Institute show more than 252,000 new cases of breast cancer are estimated to be diagnosed in the year 2017.
Rep. Greg Leding, sponsor of Act 708, said a conversation with a friend inspired him to take action, thus sponsoring the bill.
"She had a friend and breast cancer had been delayed in being diagnosed because of an issue with her breast tissue," Leding said.
Included in the law is a breast screen ultrasound, which is performed in conjunction with an ultrasound.
"A woman would need to come have her mammogram and we would then determine if she has dense breasts, and then we would recommend a screening ultrasound if she's of average risk," said Dr. Kelly Pierce, a radiologist at The Breast Center in Fayetteville.
Without insurance, the procedure would cost about $275.
Dr. Pierce said the 3-D mammogram is a good choice for women with dense breast tissue, as well as those without, and called the procedure a lifesaver for women.
"3-D mammography has been shown consistently to improve cancer detection rate, find more cancers at an earlier stage," Pierce said.