Yes! No one should go without proper breast cancer screening and cost need not be a concern. At NMC, we have taken steps to ensure that all women (and men, actually) can get the preventive breast care they need, regardless of financial resources. Our breast care nurse navigator, Chelsea Mulheron, works with individuals to identify barriers to care, connect them with available resources, and assist each person on their path to better health.
Even with all the efforts of Vermont Health Connect to expand insurance coverage, financial barriers to care still exist. Some Vermonters still do not have coverage. Others who have coverage are ‘under insured” and face deductibles or out of pocket expenses which prevent them from having preventive care. According to a state report, 23% of Franklin County residents were under insured. That is nearly one in four of us, so if you are in this situation, you are not alone. Fortunately, Chelsea can help connect you to a variety of sources of assistance.
“Ladies First” is a program through the Vermont Department of Health that helps eligible women get breast, cervical, and heart health screenings. Chelsea can assist you in completing an application form to determine if you qualify. She makes the process as simple as possible and response is typically very quick.
If by chance you don’t qualify by “Ladies First” and yet finances are still a barrier to care, Chelsea can help you through a grant NMC received from the Vermont-New Hampshire affiliate of Susan G. Komen. The funds of this grant are being used to cover the cost of screening and follow-up mammography as well as the cost of transportation to and from screenings.
You may also be worrying about what you would do if your screening identified a medical need that would cause expenses that exceed your financial resources. Our community is blessed to have the Jim Bashaw Cancer & Catastrophic Illness Fund. This fund is based here at NMC and is administered by Jen Hauptman. Jen works with patients to identify what financial needs they have as a result of their diagnosis (deductibles and out of pocket costs, travel or medication expenses, and other financial challenges). The Jim Bashaw Fund assists many people in our community each year as a powerful remembrance of a beloved local educator, coach, and family man.
We have found that many in our community who have a real need are still hesitant to ask for assistance because they worry there might be others who have even greater needs. Unfortunately, as a result, programs are actually being underutilized and patients are not getting either the care they need or all the financial support which is available to them. Mammography is key in the early detection of breast cancer and that greatly increases the chances of it being treated successfully.
If you have questions about financial assistance relating to mammography, please reach out to Chelsea, NMC’s breast care navigator, at 524-1242 or [email protected] These programs are in place to ensure that financial questions or challenges are not barriers to preventive breast care in our community. This is about neighbors helping neighbors. Please don’t let your needs go unmet, when we have these resources right here to support you.
— Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer