Metastatic Breast Cancer and Access to Affordable Care
By Nancy G., member, Coalition Board of Directors
My name is Nancy, and I have metastatic triple negative breast cancer. I was first diagnosed with stage III triple negative breast cancer in 2015. At that time, my full-time employment provided the income and health insurance for our family of three; my husband was partially disabled and working part-time, while our youngest son was a full-time college student. I was on short-term disability for six months during chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation treatments in 2016, returning to work as soon as my benefits ended to avoid further financial hardship.
In 2017, my cancer returned and was found to have metastasized (spread) to other areas of my body. I attempted to work while once again receiving chemotherapy. In early 2018, I became fully disabled and unable to work due to the side effects of my chemotherapy and the disease progression. I was 61 years old. I entered the five-month waiting period for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) benefits and the 24-month waiting period for Medicare health insurance. My employer-sponsored health insurance stopped several months before my Medicare benefits began, forcing me to rely on health coverage through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). Between my COBRA insurance premium of approximately $1800.00 per month and the high out-of-pocket expenses for services it entails, these costs almost bankrupted our family. I became eligible for Medicare in July of 2020, 24 months after becoming fully disabled. I was 63 years old.
I am “one of the lucky ones;” many women and men with advanced, metastatic breast cancer do not survive the 24-month waiting period for Medicare insurance.
Please contact your congressional representatives and ask them to support HR 549, the Metastatic Breast Cancer Access to Care Act. This bill would waive the waiting periods for SSDI and Medicare coverage for people like me, who are under age 65 and have metastatic breast cancer. And if your representatives have already signed onto the bill, tell them “Thank you!”
This story appeared in the Summer 2022 newsletter, Voices of the Ribbon.
ACT Today! Learn more about HR 549, Metastatic Breast Cancer Access to Care Act, the Coalition’s Advocacy Committee, and how you can join advocacy efforts!