During these difficult economic times, costs are rising for everyone, and we’ve seen an increase in people reaching out to Susan G. Komen for support.
This year alone, more than half of the 25,835 people who have reached out to the Komen Patient Care Center for support did so because of economic concerns related to breast cancer care – whether it was being able to afford a mammogram or needing help with a bill. Further, 9,200 people who are currently in treatment for breast cancer have already received financial help through the Komen Financial Assistance Program, and requests for financial support through this program have increased by 62% compared to last year.
A Kaiser Family Foundation report found that women delay or avoid care because of the cost, choosing to prioritize their families and children over their own health and instead using already limited financial resources for food, bills and/or transportation costs. No one should have to choose between paying for basic needs and getting treated for breast cancer.
When Shareka was diagnosed with breast cancer, she had a full-time job, good insurance and support from family. Yet she found she still needed help to pay her bills. “I turned to Komen and applied for financial assistance. Within hours, I had a response and was able to pay the bill,” she said. “Copays and doctors and medicines and surgeries – it adds up. It’s comforting to know Komen is there for people who need extra help.”
Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis creates a lot of questions for patients, including “How will I afford my treatment?” The mountain of bills and expenses that come with breast cancer – even for those with good insurance – can cause fear and anxiety. As the expenses pile up, breast cancer patients across the country often face difficult decisions. And many may wonder: “Can I take care of my family and pay for treatment at the same time?”
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. 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.
People like Melissa, who, within the span of a week, learned she had breast cancer and was laid off from her job. “My insurance was through COBRA and I struggled,” she recalled. “I’m a single mother of two daughters. I worried what they’d do without me. I worried I was going to die.” Melissa found support through Komen, not just financial but emotional, too. “To have this type of support while going through breast cancer treatment is huge,” she said.
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. Yolande, who is undergoing treatment for stage 2 breast cancer, found her paycheck barely covering her day-to-day living and turned to Komen.
Komen works across all fronts to remove financial and other barriers to care. “Medical bills are overwhelming when you are on a breast cancer journey,” Yolande said, noting that she worried about how she’d pay her bills. “The financial assistance from Komen helped ease the mental stress of bills. I’m so thankful for what Komen does for patients with breast cancer.”
Komen provides crucial resources including the Breast Care Helpline, the Financial Assistance Program, patient navigation and evidence-based information on breast cancer, treatments, clinical trials and more.
But we can’t provide these resources without your help. Now, more than ever, we need your help to ensure people undergoing treatment for breast cancer have access to the resources they need.