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Cancer Threat: Acute for Nevada's Uninsured, Underinsured

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007   


New York, NY - Two new studies in a journal published by the American Cancer Society say people on public health insurance programs, and those who have no insurance at all, are the ones more likely to be diagnosed with advanced forms of cancer. The reason is simple: they're less likely to receive primary care that could have prevented the cancer or, at least, caught it early.

It's a problem that hits home in Nevada. Terri Ogden, a patient navigator (advocate) at the Nevada Cancer Center, says 60 percent of the Center's patients don't have health insurance; some have lost homes or cars because of their medical bills.

"The stress of the medical bills, the stress of not being able to have access to medication -- it's a tremendous burden for them, and it's very hard to deal with cancer on top of the whole financial aspect of it as well."

There are almost 300,000 uninsured women and children in Nevada. Several presidential hopefuls have put forth campaign promises for universal health coverage, and currently crawling through Congress is a bill that would fund health insurance for children and pregnant mothers, but right now it's unclear how many children that bill could include.

American Cancer Society President Dr. Richard Wender says insurance coverage alone is not sufficient. It's access to a primary care physician that will help prevent cancer.

"Lack of health insurance is a strong predictor that life-saving preventive care will not be received, because that's usually the individual who recommends and helps you implement and receive the preventive services."



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