The award winning comedian and “Seinfeld” actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus announced this month that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer. When she shared the news, she also talked about how happy she is that she has health insurance coverage. For men and women living with cancer but without insurance, there are many challenges ahead.
Too many people still think that if you lead a healthy lifestyle, there is no need for comprehensive insurance because you don’t get sick. Unfortunately, diseases like breast cancer don’t discriminate, and research shows that simply having health insurance coverage can often save your life.
According to PEOPLE Magazine, women who do not have health insurance (or who have inadequate coverage) do not make regular doctor appointments or get regular mammograms to detect a problem. Yet the research on this issue is clear: women ages 65-74 who have mammograms every two years are more likely to survive breast cancer than women who don’t make the appointment.
Not only that, but women who don’t have insurance and have been diagnosed with cancer face some pretty hefty out-of-pocket costs. According to PEOPLE Magazine, women who have been diagnosed with cancer and lack insurance coverage face paying at least $140,000 versus the $5 to $10,000 that women with good insurance typically pay.
Dr. Ninez Ponce, from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, told PEOPLE Magazine that women who are not insured can often go into debt after paying for all of their health care expenses. Not having insurance forces you to miss out on the essential health benefits and causes you to pay so much of your own personal money for life saving treatment. Many hospitals and doctors may even delay certain treatments due to the lack of insurance coverage. Some can’t let their patients receive certain treatments at all until they get the proper insurance coverage.
That’s why many experts will tell you that health insurance can actually save lives. For instance, when the American Cancer Society looked at 52,000 breast cancer cases across the United States, they found a marked difference between women with and without health insurance. For uninsured women with breast cancer, the survival rate is only about 80.4%. For women with insurance, the survival rate jumps to 92.7%.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus urged men and women alike to invest in health insurance when she revealed her breast cancer diagnosis, and it is pretty clear that this coverage makes a huge difference. Not only does it save you money when you get injured or fall ill, but it also can truly help to save your life.