Breast Cancer: I Can’t Afford It

Amanda DeBard | Jan 30, 2020 | Care, Stories

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. That’s a staggering statistic.

According to the National Institutes of Health, medical expenses for breast cancer were an estimated $16.5 billion in 2010, and have risen in the past decade. That, too, is a staggering statistic.

Breast cancer is financially toxic. Treatment, alone, is expensive. But the emotional, physical, mental and financial toll breast cancer inflicts on patients is what makes the disease especially toxic.  

Yet hundreds of thousands of people across the U.S. are facing the struggles every day that come with a breast cancer diagnosis.

Susan G. Komen works across all fronts to remove financial and other barriers to care – because we believe every life is worth saving and no one should be left in financial ruin because of a breast cancer diagnosis.

Available Resources

Breast cancer treatment has a lot of hidden costs that add up quickly. These could include the cost of childcare during medical appointments and gasoline for trips to the doctor.

Komen’s Breast Care Helpline is a great place to start to learn about resources available to breast cancer patients and even loved ones. Trained professionals offer free support and provide information about financial assistance programs that patients may qualify for, including the Komen Treatment Assistance Program.

The Komen Treatment Assistance Program bridges the gap for underserved individuals who are actively undergoing breast cancer treatment. With this program, Komen aims to help those who are facing financial challenges by providing the following to low-income, underinsured or uninsured women across the country: an assessment by an oncology social worker, limited financial assistance, breast cancer education, psychosocial support and information about local resources.

Funding helps women of any age who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, at any stage of the disease. Financial assistance is granted to women who meet pre-determined eligibility criteria.

Call 1-877-GO-KOMEN or email helpline@komen.org.

What Komen is Doing

Komen advocates at the state and federal levels for changes to public policies that will help remove financial barriers to care.

Oral parity legislation, which requires health insurers to cover the cost of oral chemotherapy in the same manner they cover chemotherapy administered through an IV, would allow patients flexibility in treatment options. This allows patients potential reductions in some of the hidden time, effort and energy associated with treatment. Legislation that would make this change has already passed in 43 states and the District of Columbia and is currently pending in the U.S. House and Senate. Passage of remaining legislation is a top priority for Komen.

The Metastatic Breast Cancer Access to Care Act is another priority at the federal level that would ease the cost of care for the estimated 154,000 women living with metastatic breast cancer in the U.S. Bills in the House and Senate seek to remove the waiting periods for access to Social Security Disability Insurance and eligible Medicare benefits, totaling more than two years. This is time these patients don’t have to waste.

Several states have passed laws that require insurers to cover the full cost of medically necessary diagnostic breast imaging. Currently, most patients must pay out-of-pocket for these tests, which are needed if a screening mammogram detects an abnormality. Additionally, women who have been previously diagnosed with breast cancer are often required to get diagnostic tests in place of a screening mammogram. U.S. lawmakers have introduced legislation in the House and Senate that would eliminate all costs to patients for medically necessary diagnostic tests.

Learn more about Komen’s public policy and advocacy efforts here.

You’re Not Alone

Breast cancer by itself is a battle. Patients don’t have to fight it alone. Komen strives to meet patients where they are to support them, empower them and help them get the care they need to have the best possible quality of life.