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How to save your breasts and your wallet by October 2nd! | Health

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How to save your breasts and your wallet by October 2nd!

Insurance companies state that they are willing to pay 100% of a "screening mammogram", but not for the “I think we found something”; what the @#!$ does that mean?  In my case, I felt a lump, and made the mistake of mentioning it to the technician during my mammogram.  Should I have mentioned the lump, or should have I played dumb?  Well, mentioning the lump cost me $600, and that is with my health insurance coverage (part of that was the “you need to come back because I think we found something” factor).  So two mammograms, $600 out of my pocket, two missed days of work, 4 weeks of no good sleep (because I could not get an appointment any earlier), and a potential ulcer from all the stress….it was normal!  Was it worth it?  Could I have done things differently? Well…. 

Unfortunately, a "Diagnostic Mammogram" as described above is considered "not preventative," as seemed by the insurance industry, which can cost in the upwards of $1000; and that is for one mammogram!  This will include the facility visit, taking the mammogram, the radiologist’s reading etc.  However, this can all be negotiated as I did with my $600 bill at a later date (stay tuned for a future blog).  The key is NOT to panic, and if you have a chance, especially with today’s healthcare reform, weigh ALL your options.

Well, I took the time to do a little research for you, my readers and fans; I found there are many clinics and hospitals giving free mammograms.  Every one of them has their own rules, but the one that stood out for most of my friends was INOVA’s free mammogram program called Breast Awareness Campaign http://newsroom.inova.org/article_display.cfm?article_id=5432.  The ONLY caveat(s) are: you must be at least 40 years of age, October 2nd is the only day available, you need a physician’s order, and my personal favorite, a “follow-up mammogram,” otherwise known as the second mammogram is not covered.  Hey, all this work is worth saving $600 on your first and hopefully ONLY mammogram this year!!!!  You should also register ahead of time to avoid any chaos.  In addition, many hospitals that are not for profit, like INOVA, have special programs to help subsidize that “second mammogram” if needed.  You just have to ask the right people…and a good place to start is ask your physician, but even better, research your local nonprofits that specialize in breast cancer….what are they raising money for?  Or should I say, this is what they should be raising money for! 

Unfortunately, I did not qualify for INOVA’s free mammogram; in part because I am not 40, but I already had my “annual wellness exam.”  Maybe next year I will be "wiser" when I go for my “annual wellness exam”:  search around for the free mammograms that I qualify for, keep my mouth shut, or lobby for a new insurance plan that has rules I like!