A study found that older women (aged 65 to 69) who had Medicare-managed insurance were 11% less likely to have a recommended screening mammogram if there was a co-pay (even a small one). Women who were poor or less educated were more likely to skip a mammogram when there was a co-pay.
Mammograms, along with regular breast self-exam (BSE), are one of the best ways to diagnose breast cancer early, when it's most treatable. Research shows that regular mammograms and BSE mean more women survive breast cancer. In an ideal world, EVERY woman older than 40 would have regular mammograms.
Despite the benefits of regular mammograms, increasing numbers of women are NOT getting recommended mammograms. This study suggests that cost may be the main cause of this trend. In recent years, more and more insurance plans have started to require a co-pay for mammograms. Insurance companies are probably doing this to lower their costs. But costs actually may increase in the long run. If screening mammograms aren't done as recommended, more breast cancers are diagnosed later, when the disease is harder -- and more expensive -- to treat.
Paying for healthcare can be very challenging, especially if you have limited income and no medical insurance, or are covered only by Medicare. But if you're older than 40, skipping regular mammograms is NOT an option. Stick with the mammogram screening plan you and your doctor decide is best for you. If cost is an issue for you, talk to your doctor, or a local hospital social worker, or the staff members at a mammogram center. Ask about free mammogram programs in your area. There is only one of YOU and you deserve the best care possible.