Getting Covered Means Preventive Care to Save a Life

January 28, 2014

Houston-cervical-cancer outreach

Get Covered America staff and volunteers share good news about coverage at a Houston HPV and Cervical Cancer Summit.

Betty, a Houston child care worker, always remembered to get her annual check-ups and well-woman visits, knowing her family counted on her to stay healthy. Then, a few years ago, she became uninsured. Her trips to the doctor lapsed, and she started to get sick. On a visit to the emergency room, a scan discovered Betty had a tumor the size of a grapefruit. The cause was cervical cancer. Doctors told her, if all went well, they could help Betty survive without amputating her leg. And that’s what they did. But between the financial hardship of paying for treatment she needed and the uncertainty surrounding getting care in time to save her leg and her life, that diagnosis brought incredible stress for Betty and her family. “It was more than anyone should have to bear,” she says.

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, and that has special relevance here in Texas. Texas has one of the nation’s highest rates of cervical cancer and one of the highest rates of deaths from cervical cancer. We also are the state with the most uninsured people. Not having health coverage can mean missing out on preventive care, like pap smears that screen for cervical cancer. These screenings save lives, and women are doing better and spared from experiencing advanced-stage cervical cancer because of them. In fact, if enough women could get the routine preventive care they need, cervical cancer could be headed to the dustbins of history.

Unfortunately, being uninsured too often means later diagnosis for the slow-growing cancer—and greater risk for women. Not having health coverage is second only to age as a risk factor for advanced-stage cervical cancer.

The great news is the Affordable Care Act is making coverage available to millions of Texans. That means women like Betty can see a doctor early, and not have to wait until they’ve gotten sick to get care they need. And since well-woman visits and routine pap smears are fully covered, women can get life-saving screenings with no out-of-pocket costs. What’s more, financial assistance is available to help Texans pay for the coverage that can give them peace of mind: in fact, three out of four Texans who have enrolled in the health insurance marketplace so far got this financial help.

Our Texas Get Covered America team has been out spreading the word about the new health insurance options and what they mean for women and families. Check out our Get Covered Calculator for an idea about the health insurance choices available to you, and use our locator tool to find in-person assistance with someone who can help you get covered now.

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