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Do you know a breast cancer patient who needs a wig?

Posted By on January 10th, 2011 at 10:47 am | 93 comments.

Crickett’s Answer for Cancer is a York, PA-based non-profit providing wigs, head coverings, massage therapies and pampering products for breast cancer patients. Bonnie Julius and Carole Trone founded the organization as a loving memorial to Crickett, Bonnie’s daughter and Carole’s cousin and good friend. After their devastating loss, they decided to fund those things that others might think are frivolous or unnecessary. Their goal is to provide women with hope, inspiration and and the support they need to celebrate their own lives every day, as Crickett did. She saw each day as an opportunity to live life to the fullest and to celebrate the gift of life.

To request services, visit www.crickettsanswerforcancer.org. After completing a simple application, you will be referred to a vendor or service provider in your area for the items or services. Crickett’s Answer for Cancer will pay 100% of the cost directly to the vendor on your behalf. You will have no out-of-pocket expenses.

I first learned about this remarkable service when my sister-in-law in North Carolina was able to get a wig through them during her breast cancer treatment. Since then, I have been happy to include Crickett’s Answer for Cancer in our list of resources for the women who call us for help.

Patient Advocacy in 2010: It was a busy year

Posted By on January 5th, 2011 at 10:02 am | 2 comments.

Today is only the third working day of 2011 and we have already talked with three women, all with different issues they need help with. One hasn’t had a mammogram in several years and has no insurance, another is a Medicare patient overwhelmed with co-pays for medical bills, and another is paying over $1,000 a month for insurance due to a pre-existing condition.

This past year, 75 women with breast cancer, or their friends or family members, called the PBCC for help. Often they sounded exhausted and told us that they’d already tried a number of other places and expected that we wouldn’t be able to help them. That just makes us more determined to find the resources they need.

Over half of the questions we hear are about medical bills and co-pays or mammograms. Of the 75 who called,

  • 21 needed financial help with medical bills
  • 20 needed mammograms and were uninsured or underinsured
  • 9 had questions about BCCPT (free treatment program) or other coverage
  • 6 needed help paying for prescriptions
  • 3 were breast cancer patients on the verge of losing their insurance
  • 3 had general questions or concerns about breast cancer
  • 2 needed lymphedema supplies
  • 2 wanted a referral for a specialist or a hospital
  • 2 needed to know where to get prostheses
  • 1 needed a follow-up mammogram, which her insurance wouldn’t cover
  • 1 was awaiting diagnosis and was exploring coverage options ahead of time
  • 1 was looking for information about home health care
  • 1 had questions about legal issues of an employer not allowing time off for treatment

2010 Evening Reception at the Harrisburg HiltonAlso in 2010 we added this question to our online Friends Like Me care package order form: “If this is a self-request, would you like the PBCC’s patient advocate to call you?”

Usually, we find that the information included in the Friends Like Me care package answers all of the questions a survivor may have. But all the recipients we talk with say that the phone call is one more reminder that she is not alone, the PBCC is here for her.

Insurance Guidebook Saved Breast Cancer Patient $10,000

Posted By on December 17th, 2010 at 10:10 am | 1 comment.

When a newly-diagnosed women or a friend orders one of our FREE Friends Like Me care packages, he or she may request a phone call from our Patient Advocate (that’d be me). We have often thought that the contents of the package may answer many of her questions, so we allow some time for her to receive and review it before I call. This week we learned just how true that is.

I called a woman in Wayne County who received her package after Thanksgiving. She is quite an advocate in her own path to treatment and recovery. She has been researching prescription assistance programs and other community resources. When we were just about to end our conversation, she mentioned that part of her education was to read our insurance guidebook Breast Cancer: Covered or Not?, which was included in her Friends Like Me care package.

Of particular interest to her was the information on pages 102 and 103 about checking for hospital billing mistakes. So she took out her stack of mounting medical bills and sure enough…there was a double billing mistake to the tune of $10,000!

Her hospital acknowledges the mistake and is working to correct it. When she said “Your organization has already saved me $10,000,” it really made our day.

If you or someone you know can use advice in relation to breast cancer treatment and insurance, order your FREE copy of Breast Cancer: Covered or Not? today!  You can also request a Friends Like Me care package be sent to a recently diagnosed woman in Pennsylvania!

Explore Your Options Easily Under the Affordable Care Act

Posted By on November 15th, 2010 at 9:13 am | 0 comments.

Now you can confidentially search which private insurance plans, public programs and community services are available to you with this online tool.  Go to www.healthcare.gov and select “Explore your coverage and pricing options.” Then click on the answers to 4 or 5 questions about where you live (state only, not address), your health care needs, and insurance status.

Information pops up about available resources you may qualify for and how to access them.  Your answers are used by www.healthcare.gov only to generate your best options.  The site does not keep your information on file, and does not ask for your name.  I tested the questionnaire using several fictional scenarios and found the answers to be very comprehensive.

September 23rd: Six Months in to the Affordable Care Act

Posted By on September 23rd, 2010 at 1:25 pm | 0 comments.

On September 23, 2010, the new Patients’ Bill of Rights protections kick into gear, adding to the number of individuals and families benefiting from the Affordable Care Act.  Starting now, these changes go into effect:

  • Children with pre-existing conditions will be able to get insurance coverage for their health care needs.
  • New private insurance plans will be required to cover preventive services, screenings and tests, without co-pays
  • Women will be able to go directly to their OB/GYN without a referral, removing that extra step
  • Your choice of primary care doctor is protected
  • Insurers are prohibited from charging extra when you need emergency care outside the plan’s network

The Healthcare.gov website includes a brief summary of the new restrictions for insurers and new rights for consumers that begin to take effect now.

Fox Chase Mammography Van Coming to Primos, PA

Posted By on August 24th, 2010 at 12:49 pm | 25 comments.

State Representative Nicholas A. Micozzie is teaming up with Fox Chase Cancer Center to offer mammograms to qualified women on Wednesday, September 1st at 9:00 AM.

The mammography van will be located in St. Eugene’s parking lot on Oak Avenue in Primos. For directions, click here.

Women must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be 40 years of age or older
  • Must provide the name and address of your doctor
  • Must have a prescription from your doctor for the mammogram
  • Must not be breastfeeding or have breastfed within the past 9 months
  • Must not have had a breast cancer diagnosis within the past 2 years
  • Must not be currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer
  • Must not have had a mammogram in the past 12 months

Space is limited and appointments are required.  To schedule, contact Rep. Micozzie’s Drexel Hill district office at 610-284-0020.

PA Fair Care to begin accepting applications on Wednesday

Posted By on August 2nd, 2010 at 5:26 pm | 0 comments.

The PA Insurance Department is offering a new program called PA Fair Care – Pennsylvania’s health plan for uninsured adults with pre-existing conditions.

PA Fair Care will be administered statewide through a contract with Highmark Blue Shield. Benefits will include preventive care, physician services, diagnostic testing, hospitalization, mental health services and prescriptions. The cost to enrollees is a subsidized premium of $283.20 monthly.

To be eligible for PA Fair Care, applicants must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or lawful resident
  • Be a Pennsylvania resident
  • Have a pre-existing health condition
  • Be uninsured for the previous six months

PA Fair Care will begin taking applications on Wednesday, August 4, after 8:30 a.m. To apply, applications can be completed online at www.PAFairCare.com, or those without internet access may apply with assistance from the toll free helpline – 1-888-767-7015 (TTY 1-888-767-7018) Monday thru Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Anyone with questions, please call the toll free helpline at 1-888-767-7015.

MRIs: Not Medically Necessary?

Posted By on March 31st, 2010 at 9:02 am | 0 comments.

Yet another patient called me today to say that her doctor wants to order an MRI, but her insurer will not cover the cost, calling MRIs experimental for the purpose of breast cancer detection.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) says “Breast MRI is not used for routine breast cancer screening, but clinical trials (research studies with people) are being performed to determine if MRI is valuable for screening certain women, such as young women at high risk for breast cancer. MRI cannot always accurately distinguish between cancer and benign (non-cancerous) breast conditions.”

I would welcome comments and advice from either side of this discussion.