SUMMARY: When we did our project crowdsourcing the price of mammograms with the Brian Lehrer show at WNYC, we heard from some of you that you couldn’t afford a mammogram. We want to make you and others aware of free or low-cost mammograms.
In this post, part of our series about our crowdsourcing partnership with WNYC public radio in New York, we heard stories like this one from a woman who paid $505 cash for a mammogram: “A BC survivor (diagnosed at age 36), I need to get my mammograms. This was the first one I had after completing treatment. After being laid off in 2009, my COBRA insurance ended a few days before this appointment ( i was unaware) So I had to pay out of pocket- and still being underemployed…. I’m still paying it off. I was shocked to see how much it cost, it only takes a few minutes! As a sidenote: because of the cost, I haven’t been able to get once since.”
Yes, it’s true that your mammogram should be free under the Affordable Care Act if you are covered by insurance, though there are some caveats. Here’s our blog post on free mammograms under the ACA.
But if you’re uninsured, here is a list of resources for free and low-cost mammograms via city, state and federal governments, nonprofits, big hospitals, foundations and others. This isn’t exhaustive, and it’s heavy on New York because that’s where we are, but there are other national resources here too. No one should ever have to go without.
The American Cancer Society has a wealth of resources, from education to treatment.
Planned Parenthood does thousands of mammograms every year. They figure their charges on a sliding scale. To find their closest location, go to their site.
Other online sources for women’s health: Bedsider has a search engine for women’s health, including clinic locations.
Many city, state and local governments have resources for free screenings; look on your local web site. Also here’s a nationwide search engine called Aunt Bertha for various health, housing, employment and other resources.
In the New York area, we were told several times of the Avon Foundation Breast Imaging Center, New York Presbyterian- Columbia Presbyterian, 1130 St. Nicholas Ave., New York, N.Y. (212) 851-4516.
The S.A.V.E. program at UMDNJ Newark, in New Jersey, provides mammography, Pap smear, colorectal cancer screenings and health and health services education at no cost to the uninsured and those with limited insurance and low/no income. There are also cancer screening/ education services for men. I believe a portion of the program is funded by the Komen Foundation. These services are a godsend and the time from first call to being seen to results reporting is very efficient. It is a multilingual, mobile program of strong quality. Please include the valuable services of the SAVE program at UMDNJ Newark in your study data, and thank you for this useful study.
An excellent resource for breast health: Susan G. Komen for the Cure funds local initiatives. Here’s a list of their Greater New York grant recipients for screening coordination. (Updated February 2016 with 2014 winners.) To find your local affiliate, go here, and check out the local affiliate’s local partner listings.
The Breast Center at Nyack Hospital
Screening Coordination Program
Provides breast health education, screening and diagnostic treatment and support services to medically underserved women with a focus on reducing breast cancer mortality in medically underserved women 40 years of age and older. (Rockland County)
Callen-Lorde Community Health Center
Breast/Chest Cancer Screening Access Project
Offers targeted education and screening coordination for underserved and at-risk lesbian/bisexual (LB) women and individuals of transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) experience. (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens)
Independence Care System
Breast Cancer Screening Project for Women with Physical Disabilities
Coordinates breast health screening and educational workshops for women with physical disabilities who are enrolled in a nonprofit Medicaid-managed long-term care program. (Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan)
Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York, Inc. (KCS)
“Breast Cares”;: New Beginning for Healthy Women
Offers culturally and linguistically appropriate screening coordination and breast health education to uninsured or underinsured Asian women, focusing on the Korean community. (New York City)
Long Island Jewish Medical Center
LIJMC Cancer Community Connection
Provides educational, psychosocial, logistical, and financial support to medically underserved African-American, Hispanic, Asian, uninsured, and undocumented women in Southeast Queens and Jamaica. (Queens)
Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Community Based Programs to Increase Breast Cancer Screening among Minority Women
Provides culturally and linguistically appropriate navigational assistance to African-American and Latina women in need of a clinical breast examination and/or mammography. (Brooklyn, Bronx and Manhattan)
The New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens
NYHQ Breast Health Coordination
Provides breast health information, assistance in scheduling appointments, translation/interpretation services, transportation, insurance enrollment assistance, support group referrals and links to appropriate treatment. (Queens)
Open Door Family Medical Center, Inc.
The Open Door Family Medical Center Breast Health Program
Delivers culturally and linguistically appropriate education, screening and diagnostic services, as well as treatment, for low-income, immigrant women attending Open Door clinics. (Westchester County)
Peconic Bay Medical Center Central Suffolk Hospital
Taking Care of You, Helping You Get Screened and Care for Your Breast Health
Offers culturally and linguistically appropriate patient navigation, as well as access to breast health screenings, treatment, support services and education to Latina, African-American and Polish women. (Suffolk County)
Project Renewal, Inc.
The ScanVan Program: Mobile Breast Cancer Screening and Patient Navigation for Medically Underserved Women
Provides breast health education, screening, and patient navigation to medically underserved ethnic minority women, new immigrants, the homeless and uninsured and underinsured onboard its ScanVan mobile mammography clinic. (New York City)
St. John’s Riverside Hospital
Yonkers Community Breast Health Initiative
Provides education, outreach and screening services targeted to uninsured and undocumented Latina and African-American women in Yonkers. (Westchester County)
William F. Ryan Community Health Center, Ryan-NENA Site
Lower East Side Breast Health Program
Offers culturally and linguistically competent breast cancer education and screening coordination services to uninsured and underinsured women. (Midtown and the Lower East Side of Manhattan)
In Texas, women who are struggling financially can apply to the Texas Women’s Health Program, which provides low-income women with family planning services, related health screenings and birth control.
One woman wrote in our WNYC Share form: “I received a mailer from the Outer Banks Hospital in North Carolina and they offer free mammograms to people older than 40 years old and you have to live and work in Dare county.”
The NHS (National Health Service) Breast Screening Programme in England invites all women aged 50-70 for breast screening every three years. This is being extended to women in their late 40 up to age 73. Older women can request screening. This service is *free at point of delivery* and is paid for out of the public purse. Breast cancer patients are screened more often during treatment.
In short, there are resources for free mammograms in lots of places. If you aren’t insured, and feel that you can’t afford one, ask around or look on the Web. You shouldn’t have to go without.
This is Part Five of our WNYC “price of a mammogram” series. The series is outlined here.
2. The overview: How much does a mammogram cost? Prices, payments vary widely, our survey with WNYC finds.
3. We don’t offer medical advice, but we wanted to tell you about the guidelines. When is a mammogram not a mammogram?
4. How much does a mammogram cost? Your tales of bills: $0 to $2,786.95.
5. Women’s health resources. No one should ever have to go without a mammogram or other women’s health issues. Reproductive health belongs to us. Here are some resources, and some thoughts about women’s health.
6. Acts of healing, and of overcharging: Contributors talk about their mammograms.
7. How much does a mammogram cost? The takeaway.
8. How should you choose a mammogram facility? Dr. Geraldine McGinty explains.