STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) – Starting Tuesday, private insurers will need to pick up the tab for women seeking diagnostic mammograms.

Many companies pay for the initial screening, but now they will need to pay for additional MRIs and ultrasounds.

“Making access for patients as easily as possible is the reason patients will go and get things done,” said Dr. Mary Clarke, with Stillwater Medical Center.

Clarke said that this new law will bring more women in to receive initial tests because they won’t have the burden of out-of-pocket costs for further screening.

“If they’re going to make a decision between getting a mammogram or paying rent or buying food, then that will absolutely change what women do,” said Clarke.

Irish Stogner, executive producer at KFOR, went through this process two years ago.

In 2020, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She said paying out-of-pocket costs added to the stressful situation.

“It’s a double punch,” said Stogner. “You go in, get your mammogram, and then when they tell you you have cancer, I mean, that’s a shock to your system.”

With the recommendations that come next from the doctor, all she could think about was the money adding up for treatment.

“Right away, there’s a flurry of activity when you have a diagnosis of cancer because they want to get an MRI, they want to get a biopsy,” said the producer.

Melissa Provenzano, Democratic Representative from Tulsa, authored the law.

She said that Oklahoma is on the front-end of states moving to pass this type of law.

“Oklahoma is one of the first states where the 10th state in the nation to pass this legislation,” said Provenzano.

The lawmaker said that she has already heard from women across the state that have received reimbursement checks from their insurance companies. KFOR was unable to independently check that claim.

OU Health reported that nearly 3,000 women in Oklahoma are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer every year.

But even with this new law in place, there are still key figures to keep an eye on, said Dr. Clarke.

She said patients and doctors need to watch for higher premium costs. It would void the benefit of losing out-of-pocket costs for diagnostic mammograms if in a year or two the cost has been trickled down to the consumer, according to the physician.

Equity is another focus area for Dr. Clarke. This law establishes some type of level playing field for all women with private insurance in Oklahoma.

“If you don’t have the ability to go talk with your physician…then you’re never going to have a mammogram until you have breast pain or find a lump, which is at the point where things have to be more aggressively treated,” said Clarke. “We are trying to get them before that point.”

The Susan G. Komen organization released the following statement:

“We thank lawmakers in Oklahoma and Governor Stitt for eliminating barriers to care so that people with state-regulated health plans can now receive medically necessary diagnostic imaging without any out-of-pocket expenses. These tests are critical in determining if there is a need for a biopsy but can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars.

Thousands of women every year require diagnostic breast imaging, but many forego them because of the cost. Not anymore. This life-saving legislation means women can now receive the breast imaging they require, leading to earlier diagnosis and often better outcomes.

Susan G. Komen will continue to advocate for legislation that ensures fair and equitable access to high-quality breast care for all, no matter their age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, cancer stage or socio-economic status.”

Molly Guthrie, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy at Susan G. Komen.