Breast Cancer Survivor? Know Your Rights

Breast cancer awareness

Each October is celebrated as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an international health campaign designed to boost awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. It’s a worthy cause, particularly considering that one in eight US women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime, according to That statistic reflects an estimated 231,840 new invasive breast cancer diagnoses expected in 2015 alone.

But for breast cancer survivors who undergo mastectomies, the physical and emotional scars can be devastating. That’s why it’s critical that you know your rights under the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act, also known as “Janet’s Law.” It’s named for Janet Franquet, a Long Island woman diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in late 1997. When her insurance plan refused to cover reconstructive surgery following her mastectomy and chemotherapy treatments, deeming it purely cosmetic, Franquet’s surgeon, Dr. Todd Wider, performed the procedure free of charge. He then launched a history-making campaign that culminated in the October 21, 1998 enactment of the WHCRA.

Administered by the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services, the WHCRA mandates that group health plans, insurance companies and health maintenance organizations provide coverage for reconstructive surgery after mastectomy for breast cancer. It also prohibits so-called “drive through” mastectomies, wherein insurance carriers attempt to limit breast cancer patient’s hospital stays in order to save money.

The WHCRA requires full coverage for:

  • All stages of reconstruction of the breast on which the mastectomy was performed;
  • Surgery and reconstruction of the other breast to produce a symmetrical appearance;
  • Prostheses;
  • Treatment of physical complications of the mastectomy.

Studies show that undergoing a mastectomy brings a heightened risk of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and fear of social relationships among women. If your breast cancer treatment includes a mastectomy, Jacksonville’s Parkway Plastic Surgery can help restore your look and your self-confidence. Call 904-396-1186 to schedule a consultation today.