October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and you may not know it but Breast Cancer is the most commonly diagnosed Cancer among women. A simple mammogram screening could help save your life, but what if you don’t have insurance? One local program is helping uninsured women in South West Michigan receive free mammograms throughout the month of October.
Why is this so important? Women diagnosed at an early stage have a much higher cure rate. Second, a low percentage of eligible women in Southwest Michigan receive annual mammograms. Nationally, an estimated 55% of insured women get annual screening mammograms compared to only 17% of uninsured women. And, in Southwest Michigan, the screening rate is much lower in some counties.
In Michigan, it’s estimated that 15% of the female population is uninsured. That translates into more than 25,000 women in Southwest Michigan who are uninsured and eligible for a free screening mammogram.
How does it work?
WHO: Women between the ages of 40-64 who are uninsured and meet specific income guidelines.
WHAT: Free mammograms.
WHEN: On selected days in October during breast cancer awareness month.
WHERE: Eight Southwest Michigan counties: Allegan, Berrien, Branch, Calhoun, Cass, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Van Buren. All 19 hospitals in Southwest Michigan participate. This year, we are providing 1,500 free mammograms.
HOW: Call 1-800-873-0649 to schedule a free mammogram at a location closest to you. You can also visit the Pink Saturdays web site at www.pinksaturdays.org for more information.
This year, the initiative is more important than ever. Pink Saturdays aims to increase the number of uninsured African American and Hispanic women receiving a mammogram. 1 in 5 African Americans and 1 in 3 Hispanics/Latinos are uninsured, while only 1 in 10 non-Hispanic whites lack health insurance. Also, while African American women are less likely than Caucasian women to get breast cancer, they have a 35 percent higher death rate from the disease. Once again, this year, Pink Saturdays is partnering with the Hispanic American Council of Kalamazoo as well as local churches to reach minority populations.
To date, Pink Saturdays has provided approximately 7,750 free mammograms. 36 women have been diagnosed with cancer after being screened in the Pink Saturdays program. Their follow-up care and treatment was funded by two government programs–the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program (BCCCP) and Medicaid.
*If you do not live in one of these counties, contact a statewide hotline at 800-922-MAMM or call the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program at 800-CDC-INFO. * Identification will be required.
- 40 to 64 years old
- 65 years or older—persons in this age group automatically qualify for a mammogram through Medicare. Please contact your physician’s office or area hospital for the name of a provider near you.
- Uninsured only
- Household income less than $50,000 annually
- No breast cancer in the past three years
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