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Insurers May Be Required to Cover Cervical Cancer Vaccine Costs

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Aired 4/19/09

A bill that would require health insurers to cover the cost of vaccinating young women against cervical cancer is awaiting a decision by Governor Schwarzenegger. The California Legislature approved the measure before adjourning last week. KPBS reporter Kenny Goldberg has more.

All California health plans that cover the treatment of cervical cancer must also pay for annual screenings. The pending bill would require insurers to cover vaccinations against the human papillomavirus, as well. The virus is the leading cause of cervical cancer.

Dr. Suzanne Merrill-Nach is an OBGYN in San Diego. She says the HPV vaccine is highly effective for young women.

Merrill-Nach : This vaccine doesn't help if you've already acquired the virus. So it really needs to be preventative, prior to sex, prior to first exposure. You know, any time at that point seems to be appropriate.

The HPV vaccine costs around $360. Supporters say the bill will provide access for many California women who otherwise couldn't afford it.

Kenny Goldberg, KPBS News.

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