National Breast Cancer Coalition

Truth #25


Once there is a cure, breast cancer will still not end until everyone everywhere has access to health care.

Guaranteed access to health care is essential to ensuring that everyone with breast cancer gets the care they need when they need it. Anything less is inadequate. Sadly, a person with a new diagnosis of cancer has approximately a one in five chance of failing to receive elements of cancer care that are evidence-based and consistent with practice standards.

Access to care issues are most often explained by health insurance status. Individuals with limited health insurance coverage or none at all have poorer health outcomes than individuals with adequate health insurance. For example, studies have shown that uninsured women with breast cancer have a risk of dying that is between 30 and 50 percent higher than the risk for women with private insurance.

In addition, underinsured individuals often delay or forgo needed care and experience diminished health status. The racial differences in breast cancer mortality observed over the years have been attributed in part to African American women having more delays between diagnosis and the beginning of treatment than white women. Additionally, studies have shown that African American women are more likely than white women to discontinue treatment and miss appointments.