Breast Cancer is Costly But Komen San Diego Can Help

The hidden costs of breast cancer are staggering.

With certain surgeries and treatments costing thousands even after insurance, the ordinary gets expensive.

Food prices aren’t cheap, especially if you need to improve your nutrition by taking supplements or eating certain foods. Driving to and from doctors’ appointments and treatment sessions can cause your gas costs to skyrocket. Or, if you need to pay for a ride with Uber, Lyft, or a taxi, these can easily cost in the hundreds every week.

Childcare alone can cost more than your rent for the month and having to pay rent or your mortgage on top of all of this can be impossible if you aren’t working.

And for women and men to even find out they have breast cancer, they need to get a breast health screening and follow-up diagnostic test such as a biopsy. Some insurances only cover mammograms every two years after the age of 40 and it can be a challenge to get coverage even with symptoms or a family history present. In order for MediCal to pay for breast cancer treatment for uninsured women and men, a biopsy needs to be done to confirm the breast cancer, which can cost over $1,000 without insurance.

A 2016 study published by American Health & Drug Benefits compared insurance claims from over 8,000 women who had undergone breast cancer treatment and found that the average cost seen within the first year after receiving a diagnosis ranged from $60,637 (stage 0) to $134,682 (stage IV). 

For breast cancer patients without insurance, the consequences can be deadly.

A 2018 study conducted by The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill of more than 1,000 breast cancer patients and survivors found that 96% of uninsured participants reported delaying or refusing care due to cost, versus 36% of insured participants. The study also found that uninsured patients were faced with difficult financial hardships such as being more likely to skip non-medical bills (40% vs. 16%), stop working after diagnosis (65% vs. 46%), or being contacted by a collections agency (77% vs. 36%).

We at Susan G. Komen® San Diego think this is unacceptable.

Our commitment to saving lives in San Diego County and being an unwavering resource for breast cancer patients not only gives San Diegans access to life-saving mammograms and biopsies free of charge, but also helps pay for breast cancer patients’ most critical needs during treatment.

Over the last five years, Komen San Diego has funded over $1.5 million for over 14,000 screening and diagnostic services, and provided over $616,300 in financial assistance for rent, mortgages, food, childcare, prescriptions, transportation, lymphedema sleeves, gas, and more.

We fight too.

In 2018, we helped the California State Legislature pass AB 1795. This law removes the treatment cap of 18 months for breast cancer and 24 months for cervical cancer for the California State-funded Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program, to allow breast and cervical cancer patients to receive treatment for as long as they need it. It also expands eligibility of the California State funded-Every Woman Counts program to cover breast cancer screenings for symptomatic women under the age of 40.

No woman or man should ever die because they couldn’t afford their breast cancer treatment or a diagnostic breast health screening. That’s why we don’t just write a check. We fight. And will continue to fight until breast cancer deaths are eliminated, everyone has access to affordable and high-quality medical care, and breast cancer is no longer a financial death sentence.

For more information on our services, please visit our Free Services page, email info@sdkomen.org,  or call Komen San Diego at 858-573-2760.