A female gynocologist inspects at a patient’s mammogram.
A female gynocologist inspects at a patient’s mammogram.

Lifesaving breast cancer scans just got cheaper

THOUSANDS of devastated breast cancer patients will have the costs of cutting-edge, lifesaving scans slashed by up to $2500.

The Morrison Government's election-fighting Budget will cut breast cancer patients' collective medical costs by $32 million.

Health Minister Greg Hunt will on Friday reveal the boon for patients, many who find the high financial costs for breast cancer another hurdle.

It will help diagnosis breast cancer in patients where other imaging has been inconclusive and a biopsy not been possible.

Two new Medicare items for procedures - which are more accurate and help with better treatment - will now be available from November.

Medical Benefits Schedule will now allow for a MRI for breast cancer patients.

A MRI gives a detailed view of body such as muscles, ligaments, brain tissue, discs and blood vessels.

A female gynocologist inspects at a patient’s mammogram.
A female gynocologist inspects at a patient’s mammogram.

About 14,000 patients a year are expected to benefit, saving them up to $1500 a scan.

Tuesday's Budget will also include PET scans - which take whole body scans - for advanced breast cancer as a Medicare item from November 1.

About 10,000 patients will save up to $1000 per scan.

Mr Hunt told The Courier-Mail the new funding would help pre-surgical planning, and allow patients to make the right treatment decision.

"Access to MRI scans keep the cost of healthcare down for families and will help Australians in their fight against breast cancer,'' Mr Hunt said.

"I want to ensure we support Australian diagnosed with breast cancer by reducing out of pockets costs and ensure their diagnosis and treatment is supported by the most contemporary scans.

"Our commitment to Medicare remains rock solid. It is a cornerstone of our universal health system and a key pillar in our long term health plan."

Health Minister Greg Hunt at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne. Picture: AAP/Ellen Smith
Health Minister Greg Hunt at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne. Picture: AAP/Ellen Smith

He said the Government's investment in Medicare had grown each year from about $24 billion in 2017-18, to $25 billion in 2018-19, $26 billion in 2019-20, $27 billion in 2020-21 and $29 billion in 2021-22.

Last July the Government listed Kisqali on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for some women with advanced inoperable or metastatic breast cancer.

It meant the drug now costs a maximum of $39.50 a script, instead of the actual cost of more than $71,800 a year.

Mr Hunt also announced last year $20.5 million to the McGrath Foundation over to provide breast cancer nurses, particularly in regional and rural areas.

The Budget's stronger-than-expected bottom line is expected to provide a social dividend for families and older Australians.

And unlike other Budget and elections, the Coalition will go head-to-head with Labor on their record investment in health.



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