The March 6, 2019 journal Cancer published the findings from a qualitative study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health yielding nine patient-driven recommendations to reduce the long-term, breast cancer-related economic burden. For those living with the disease, particularly those who develop lymphedema, estimated out-of-pocket costs are $14,877 in the first two years of a diagnosis.
Susan G. Komen Florida, known as the first responders to breast cancer, has invested nearly $57 million in community breast health programs to address many of the patient recommendations found in the study, including navigation services, financial assistance and psychosocial support programs. Specifically, Komen’s grant funding aligns with the following five actionable recommendations offered by the study’s interviewees:
• Provide financial counseling or navigation throughout the diagnosis and treatment process
• Provide assistance with understanding what is covered under insurance and how to navigate changes when switching to a new insurance provider via the Komen hotline at 1-877 GO KOMEN (465-6636.
• Provide domestic assistance with household chores, child care and transportation
• Expand eligibility for financial aid and social services to those who are not in poverty
• Address psychosocial costs by expanding support groups and buddy services
In 2017 alone, Komen Florida provided funding for 735 people to receive patient navigation services, and its new Treatment Assistance Program launched earlier this year will offer financial assistance to women in 64 counties across the state. The program supports women (or men) with a cancer diagnosis who are active in treatment and have incomes at or below 250% of the Federal Poverty Limit. The funding provides for medications, psychosocial support, child/elder care, transportation to appointments and other items or services to ensure patients have the means to follow their care plans.
Targeted funding to address community-specific needs is also a focus of Komen Florida. A recent grant to provide transportation services for breast cancer patients in the rural Glades region now enables residents to get to and from Lakeside Medical Center in Belle Glade, FL for their care.
Komen realizes that patients who are not living in poverty sometimes also need financial assistance with the cost of care. That was the case for Lisa Fitter of Wellington, FL who did not have insurance because of pre-existing conditions in 2013. A Komen Florida grant to Bethesda Women’s Health Center made it possible for Fitter to receive the diagnostic testing and treatment that saved her life. She recently passed her five-year survival milestone. “When you don’t have insurance, you don’t realize how far out of reach healthcare is,” said Fitter. “If there were no Komen, I honestly don’t know what we would have done. You hate to think that you would ever be in that situation,” she said.
“Many women burdened by the expenses of breast cancer testing and treatment will forego doctors’ appointments, delay critical testing, or skip medication doses to save on the cost of care,” said Kate Watt, executive director of Komen Florida. “We save lives by ensuring support for men and women who have no where else to turn. This study shows what we’ve always believed—we deeply understand the needs of patients because we are the founders of the breast cancer movement that became the world’s largest breast cancer organization and we are relentless in our vision of a world without breast cancer.”
For more information about Susan G. Komen Florida, please call 561-514-3020 or visit www.komenflorida.org.
For more information about Komen’s Treatment Assistance Program, please call the Susan G. Komen Breast Care Helpline Monday-Friday 9am-10pm ET at 1-877 GO KOMEN (465-6636) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Susan G. Komen® Florida
Susan G. Komen is the world’s largest breast cancer organization, funding more breast cancer research than any other nonprofit while providing real-time help to those facing the disease. Komen Florida is working to better the lives of those facing breast cancer in local communities across its service area of southwest, central, north, south and the Florida Suncoast regions. Komen Florida has invested nearly $57 million in community breast health programs and has helped contribute to the more than $988 million invested globally in research. For more information, call 561-514-3020 or visit www.komenflorida.org.
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