skip to main content
1800 500 258

Latest news

BCNA News 01 Nov 2019

Medicare updates MRI, PET scan rebates

Greg Hunt SOTN

Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) has welcomed two Australian Government initiatives which came into effect today (1 November) to ease the financial burden for Australians affected by breast cancer.

From today, women with or suspected of having breast cancer will be able to claim Medicare benefits for breast MRI scans.

New rebates are also available for some PET scan services.

Medicare rebates will be available for preliminary MRI scans for:

  • Diagnosis of breast cancer in women where other imaging was inconclusive and a biopsy has not been possible; and
  • Pre-surgical planning for women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, where there is discrepancy between clinical assessment and conventional imaging assessment.

The new PET services added are:

  • Whole body PET performed for the staging of locally advanced (Stage III) breast cancer; and
  • Whole body PET performed for the evaluation of suspected metastatic, or suspected locally or regionally recurrent, breast carcinoma.

About 12,000 to 14,000 patients each year, predominantly women, are expected to benefit from the new rebates.

BCNA CEO Kirsten Pilatti said the new items would help reduce the out-of-pocket costs faced by people with breast cancer.

‘We know from our research that our members typically pay around $5,000 in out-of-pocket costs in the five years after their diagnosis, with the majority of this in the first two years.

‘Extending the rebates for MRI and PET scans has been a key platform of our advocacy for several years and we are very happy our members’ voices have been heard. We would like to thank Health Minister Greg Hunt for listening and responding to the voice of our members.

'We also pay tribute to WA breast surgeon Professor Christobel Saunders, who worked tirelessly to develop the MRI applications and see them through the long review process.

‘Advocacy has always been at the heart of BCNA. Our goal is to improve the lives of those affected by breast cancer who are missing out today, and to make sure that no one misses out tomorrow,’ Kirsten said.