§ 58-51-62.  Coverage for reconstructive breast surgery following mastectomy.

(a) Every policy or contract of accident and health insurance, and every preferred provider benefit plan under G.S. 58-50-56 that provides coverage for mastectomy shall provide coverage for reconstructive breast surgery following a mastectomy. The coverage shall include coverage for all stages and revisions of reconstructive breast surgery performed on a nondiseased breast to establish symmetry if reconstructive surgery on a diseased breast is performed, as well as coverage for prostheses and physical complications in all stages of mastectomy, including lymphademas. The same deductibles, coinsurance, and other limitations as apply to similar services covered under the policy, contract, or plan shall apply to coverage for reconstructive breast surgery. Reconstruction of the nipple/areolar complex following a mastectomy is covered without regard to the lapse of time between the mastectomy and the reconstruction, subject to the approval of the treating physician.

(b) As used in this section, the following terms have the meanings indicated:

(1) "Mastectomy" means the surgical removal of all or part of a breast as a result of breast cancer or breast disease.

(2) "Reconstructive breast surgery" means surgery performed as a result of a mastectomy to reestablish symmetry between the two breasts, and includes reconstruction of the mastectomy site, creation of a new breast mound, and creation of a new nipple/areolar complex. "Reconstructive breast surgery" also includes augmentation mammoplasty, reduction mammoplasty, and mastopexy of the nondiseased breast.

(c) A policy, contract, or plan subject to this section shall not:

(1) Deny coverage described in subsection (a) of this section on the basis that the coverage is for cosmetic surgery;

(2) Deny to a woman eligibility or continued eligibility to enroll or to renew coverage under the terms of the contract, policy, or plan, solely for the purpose of avoiding the requirements of this section;

(3) Provide monetary payments or rebates to a woman to encourage her to accept less than the minimum protections available under this section;

(4) Penalize or otherwise reduce or limit the reimbursement of an attending provider because the provider provided care to an individual participant or beneficiary in accordance with this section; or

(5) Provide incentives, monetary or otherwise, to an attending provider to induce the provider to provide care to an individual participant or beneficiary in a manner inconsistent with this section.

(d) Written notice of the availability of the coverage provided by this section shall be delivered to every policyholder under an individual policy, contract, or plan and to every certificate holder under a group policy, contract, or plan upon initial coverage under the policy, contract, or plan and annually thereafter. The notice required by this subsection may be included as a part of any yearly informational packet sent to the policyholder or certificate holder. (1997-312, s. 1; 1997-456, s. 40(a); 1997-519, s. 3.9; 1999-351, s. 3.1; 2001-334, s. 13.1.)