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The Women's Health And Cancer Rights Act


The Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA) contains important protections for breast cancer patients who choose breast reconstruction with a mastectomy. 

WHCRA requires all health insurance providers and HMOs that pay for mastectomy to also cover certain services related to breast reconstruction after the procedure. The law also requires insurance providers to notify you of this coverage at the time you enroll in their plan, and every year after that. Several states have their own laws requiring health plans that cover mastectomies to provide coverage for reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy. However, not all health plans are subject to state law. The federal law applies to those plans that aren't currently covered by state law and sets a minimum standard for securing this service for all women in all states. This includes states with weaker laws and those without any laws on this at all. 

WHCRA was signed into law on October 21, 1998. The US Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services oversees enforcement of the law.

If you have questions about the law:

  • Answers to frequently asked questions can be found at the Department of Labor's web offsite link
  • You can also call the U.S. Dept of Labor's hotline: 202.219.8776. NOTE: There are times when people do not give correct information. Given the importance of this information, even if the answer you get is the one you want to hear, it is advisable to call back again. Speak with a different representative and see if you get the same answer. 

If you have questions about the law of the state in which you live, contact your state Insurance Department. You can find the contact information at the website of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners offsite link.


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