AUSTIN, Texas - October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and this year's event marks a major shift in women being able to access the health care they need.
Under the Affordable Care Act, women cannot be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition and out of pocket costs are restricted.
The law also requires that preventive services be covered, such as annual mammograms for women starting at age 40, says Latina Starling, a volunteer for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network in Texas.
"Those provisions that are in the health care law, get them to be really accessible to the cancer patients now," she explains, "because for those women who are under-insured or uninsured, those provisions of the health care law is going to be able to have women get the preventive measures and also the health care."
Enrollment for plans under the health care exchange is underway, with policies to take effect Jan. 1.
In addition to being a volunteer, Starling is also a survivor. She was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer at age 29, while active in the U.S. military.
Four years later, she's in remission, happy and healthy, and advises other women to be proactive about their care.
"Your gut feeling tells you, 'OK, something is wrong,'" she says. "And don't be afraid. If you don't have insurance, turn to the American Cancer Society - they have programs for you to get that mammogram. So, don't be afraid. Listen to your body and be your own best advocate."
There will be approximately 15,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in Texas this year.