The Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 (WHCRA) is a federal mandate requiring insurance companies offering coverage for mastectomies to also offer coverage for reconstruction. This applies to private insurance, group health plans and even HMOs. Full reconstruction is not the only service that’s covered, either. Surgery that’s needed in order to restore symmetry to the breasts, consultations, prostheses, and treatments related to complications of the original mastectomy are also required to be covered.
It’s good to bear in mind that the WHCRA does not mean that mastectomies are necessarily covered by your insurance company. Rather, the insurance companies that do provide coverage for mastectomies must also include coverage for the resultant breast reconstruction. At my San Diego practice, patients who visit me with concerns about restoring the size and shape of their breasts after a mastectomy are often unaware of their rights to reconstruction.
If you have health concerns that would necessitate a mastectomy, check your policy to see if the procedure is covered. If so, you should know that reconstruction coverage by your insurance company is mandated by federal law, and will not be considered a cosmetic procedure. Know your rights, and get the healthcare coverage that you deserve.
Dr. Alexander received his Medical Degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, one of the country’s first medical schools, and then had five years of intensive general surgery training at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, serving as chief resident in 1993-1994. There he was one of two residents honored “Outstanding Teacher” by the Whitehead Society.
After becoming Board Certified in General Surgery, Dr. Alexander attended the University of California San Francisco, one of the premiere Plastic Surgery programs in the United States. There he completed two additional years of residency training in Plastic Surgery. Dr. Alexander is double board certified in Surgery and Plastic Surgery and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.
Dr. Alexander specializes in facial rejuvenation, and was the first surgeon in California to perform the QuickLift,™ a revolutionary surgical procedure that takes years off the face with less downtime than traditional facelifts. He is a specialist in chemical peels and laser surgery and was selected to author the chapter “Facial Resurfacing” in Plastic Surgery, the premiere textbook of the specialty. He also specializes in facial cancer reconstruction and endoscopic, minimally-invasive procedures, publishing his own original research about endoscopic plastic surgery. He lectures in medical forums and has presented his results at both national and international surgical meetings.