The new legislation has three key components, the first of which eliminates annual deductibles, co-pays and co-insurances for women with New York state insurance.

A woman feels something in her body that does not seem right.

Her doctor is concerned and orders a standard mammogram, which is covered by her insurance. When it appears that she needs more tests or imaging services, she considers all of her options and weighs the pros and cons.

Does she pay bills or spend more money for additional diagnostic mammograms or other services that she knows will probably come from her own pocket? Suddenly, not only does she have to deal with the possibility of some serious health concerns, but she becomes burdened with the anxious thoughts racing through her mind of how she will make it through the month.

Add to that the difficulty many women face of securing permission from employers to leave work for breast cancer screening without loss of pay. Losing a half day’s wages can make a huge difference in a woman’s decision to go for a screening. And depending on the nature of their jobs, women cannot always schedule a mammogram during the typical workday of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

But a new state law that went into effect Sunday is designed to make it easier — and less stressful — for women to gain access to breast health care and services.

The new legislation has three key components, the first of which eliminates annual deductibles, co-pays and co-insurances for women with New York state insurance. New York State insurance companies will be responsible for full payment of some breast imaging services such as screening and diagnostic mammograms, ultrasound and MRI. This means patients having these medically necessary services will not have to worry about paying for the procedures — or have to make the difficult decision about whether the procedures are affordable at all.

“These are decisions we see women make every day here,” says Dr. Stamatia Detounis, managing partner and radiologist at the Elizabeth Wende Breast Care center in Brighton. “Women are the nurturers. They hold the family together. They have bills to pay, kids to care for, gas for the car.”

The law was created to encourage women to seek medical services when needed, rather than postponing due to a financial burden. However, it is important that women understand the new law does not mean they will never have to make a payment, as not all services are covered in full under the law. Insurance companies based outside New York state are not required to follow the state law. Women will be responsible for contacting their insurance companies and checking to see what services will be covered.

When asked about the most important thing she would like the public to know about the new mammography legislation, Destounis pointed to the last two key components of the new law, which include the four hours of leave each year that New York state employers will be required to give employees for breast cancer screening, and extended hours of screening for at least four hours per week that will be required of New York state hospitals and hospital extension clinics.

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the measure into law in June at a ceremony on Long Island, he was joined by longtime girlfriend Sandra Lee. The Food Network star’s successful treatment for breast cancer prompted the governor to introduce the legislation.

“The best prevention is detection,” Cuomo said. “You don’t get detected unless you get screened. You need to get screened.”

According to the American Cancer Society, uninsured and underinsured women have lower screening rates for mammograms, resulting in a greater risk of being diagnosed at a later, more advanced stage of disease. The new legislation is designed to remove the financial burdens and allow more accessible screenings.

For breast cancer diagnosed at an early stage, the five-year survival rate is 99 percent, according to the Cancer Society, while cancer diagnosed at a later stage has a five-year survival rate of 26 percent.

Some clinics or breast care centers, such as Elizabeth Wende Breast Care, have been offering extended hours and select Saturdays for years. Elizabeth Wende offers such services as mammograms, 3D mammograms, MRI, ultrasound, biopsies, cancer risk assessment and genetic counseling. Highly experienced radiologists and support staff provide each woman with expertise in breast cancer screening, detection and care. EWBC — one of the largest freestanding breast imaging centers in the United States and the largest single-site breast imaging center in New York — today is a group practice of seven breast imaging specialists with five locations.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.