ObamaCare expands to cover preventive breast cancer drugs

Drugs to prevent breast cancer will be covered without cost-sharing for women at increased risk of the disease, thanks to ObamaCare, federal health officials announced. 

The Department of Health and Human Services released guidance Thursday directing most insurance plans to cover medications to prevent breast cancer for free starting this fall.

"We are making significant advancements in combating this disease — and for women who are shown to be at a higher relative risk for breast cancer, today, access to early treatments can improve their health," HHS Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusFormer health chiefs: Stabilizing ObamaCare markets benefits Republicans OPINION | 5 big ideas to halt America's opioid epidemic Aligning clinical and community resources improves health MORE wrote in a blog post.

The directive expands ObamaCare's preventive services mandate, which outlines medical care insurance plans must provide to patients without co-pays.

Supporters of the policy argue it would improve public health while reducing healthcare costs, as disease is generally cheaper to prevent than to treat.

Opponents say the mandate is onerous and could increase costs in other ways. Some religious conservatives also take issue with the requirement that plans cover a range of birth control methods. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in a related case on March 25.

Thursday's announcement followed a recommendation by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent medical advisory group sponsored by the federal government.

The panel said in September that women at higher risk for breast cancer take drugs like tamoxifen and raloxifene, which have been shown to cut the incidence of the disease.