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How uninsured, Florida women can receive mammograms

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by Joint Base Lewis McChord

Deborah Vanloh, a mammogram technologist at Naval Hospital Pensacola, prepares a patient for a mammogram Oct. 5 at NHP. A mammogram can often detect breast cancer long before it can be felt and usually years before physical symptoms appear.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and experts are encouraging uninsured women or women of low-income families to get tested using county resources. Breast Cancer is the second most common type of cancer, affecting one in eight women in the country.

The impact can be even more detrimental to women who skip annual mammograms.

“Unfortunately, lower income populations will not come in because they have the issue of not having insurance, not being able to pay out of pocket,” said Dr. Tejal Patel, a Women’s Imaging Specialist at The HCA Florida Osceola Hospital’s Breast Care Center. “So yes, you do see a discrepancy there. Those are the people who will let it slip,” Patel said.

Despite not having insurance, there are still plenty of options for women seeking an annual checkup, including centers that offer cash-only discount prices. 

“People can look up the Department of Public Health in Florida. There are plenty of breast and cervical programs for people who are uninsured and also who could not afford it financially to pay out of pocket,” Patel said.

The Department of Health offers free or low-cost screenings with its Mary Brogan Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program for eligible uninsured or under-insured candidates between the ages of 50 and 64. 

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