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Dr. Ninez Ponce, professor in FSPH's Department of Health Policy and Management, was quoted on October 5 in a PEOPLE Magazine article about the challenges faced by uninsured women diagnosed with breast cancer, in light of actress Julia Louis-Dreifus' breast cancer announcement.
Dr. Ninez Ponce from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, tells PEOPLE that when caught between survival and the thought of mounting payments, uninsured women with breast cancer "typically go deeply into debt." Others delay life-saving treatment until they can get insurance, or opt for the cheapest treatment possible.
When Julia Louis-Dreyfus announced that she has breast cancer, she pointed out that she was “lucky” to have great insurance — and renewed the call for universal health care. Because every day there are 11 million women in the United States who live without any coverage, while at risk of developing breast cancer and other health problems.
For women who are diagnosed with breast cancer without health insurance, the statistics are particularly grim. Uninsured women are almost 2.6 times more likely to die of breast cancer than those with coverage, according to a study from the National Cancer Society. They’re also 3.72 times more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer, which lowers their survival rate. This is largely because women without insurance aren’t going to regular doctors appointments, or getting mammograms that could catch the disease before it spreads.
For those who do get diagnosed with breast cancer, they face daunting medical fees. The American Cancer Society estimates that uninsured women would pay at least $140,000 for their treatment, but likely far more. That cost goes down to out-of-pocket costs of about $5-10,000 with good insurance.
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