FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla--Why would members of a managed care group whose coverage includes mammography not take advantage of the benefit? Focus groups, conducted last year by Sanus, the managed care division of the New York Life Insurance Company, found that the answer was lack of access, said Candy J. Rudy, manager of account services at New York Life/Sanus.
The company followed up on the finding by initiating a program to make it easier for its members to receive mammo-grams, including the use of mobile mammography screening vans.
In some cases, the focus group sessions found that women were reluctant to take off time from work, Ms. Rudy said at the second annual conference of the Industries' Coalition Against Cancer. These women had missed work for office visits for routine gynecologic care, including Pap smears, but hesitated to take off more time to follow through on their referrals for mammography.
Other women said that they did not want their insurance company to know about the screening or that they did not want their employer to know.
To solve these problems, Ms. Rudy said, Sanus contracted with vendors to provide mammograms to its members without referrals. "The member makes the appointment herself directly with the hospital vendor, so she's not telling her employer and she's not telling Sanus. The vendors bill Sanus directly," she said.
When a member calls for an appointment, the vendor asks a series of questions to make sure the woman is a candidate for screening according to the American Cancer Society guidelines, Ms. Rudy noted.
She pointed out that the use of mobile vans reduces travel time and time away from work, making the service more accessible. A mobile mammography program in the Dallas/Fort Worth area has proved so successful that a fifth, independent vendor has been added to the original four hospital vendors.