Komen Colorado Treatment Grant Helps To Close Underinsurance Gap
Breast cancer treatment is an arduous road that can have numerous twists and turns. For some women, there are roadblocks before they can even get on the path to recovery. Health insurance is a common barrier to breast cancer care. But Susan G. Komen® Colorado helps pay for lifesaving treatment by funding grants to local nonprofits that provide the services. Kelli Ewalt benefitted from one of those grants, and she shared her story with Komen Colorado.
Having health insurance doesn’t mean all, or even the majority, of your bills will be taken care of. More than 40 million Americans are considered underinsured, according to The Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit foundation that advocates for a high-performing health care system.
It often takes a major medical event for someone to realize how little their health insurance will cover. Kelli Ewalt, a single mother of two children, was one of those people not long ago. In 2016, at age 39, Ewalt, of Arvada, was diagnosed with stage II breast cancer. It had spread to her some of her lymph nodes. Ewalt had insurance, but she quickly found out her coverage would not be nearly enough to cover the cost of treatment.
Medical costs for breast cancer care can quickly add up. Some people forgo some or all of their treatment because they cannot afford to pay for it.
Ewalt was faced with a similar dilemma.
“How am I going to pay for [treatment] and raise my kids and provide food,” she worried.
Ewalt said, “I was trying to think, how am I going to pay my bills? I’m going to have to get a second job, and I’m going to miss out on their lives.”
The Commonwealth Fund defines someone as underinsured if they have had coverage all year and their:
- out-of-pocket costs, excluding premiums, equal to 10 percent or more of household income; or
- out-of-pocket costs, excluding premiums, are equal to 5 percent or more of household income if income is under 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($24,280 for an individual and $50,200 for a family of four); or
- their deductible is 5 percent or more of household income.
Ewalt, though, would not have to worry for long. She qualified to have her treatment paid for by a Komen Colorado grant at St. Anthony Hospital.
Each year, Komen Colorado awards grants to local nonprofits that use the funds to provide no- and low-cost mammograms, ultrasounds, and treatment for uninsured and underinsured women and men.
During this grant cycle, Komen Colorado grants will provide 3,168 screenings and 679 diagnostic tests, and 47 women and men will be able to get treatment.
Ewalt, who underwent a lumpectomy and radiation, said she may have skipped some of her treatments if it weren’t for the Komen Colorado grant.
“I know how expensive the treatment was, and I probably would have foregone some of them because of the bills I would have had to pay back,” she said.
Ewalt said the treatment grant enabled her to focus on her health and her children.
“Because I wasn’t so stressed out about it, it helped me heal better,” Ewalt said.
These days, Ewalt is doing well. Her scans continue to show no cancer, and she wants to encourage others to financially support Komen Colorado.
“These grants are important for people who can’t afford it,” she said. “You never know who it’s going to be – your sister, your friend, your neighbor. Pay it forward so to speak. You never know if it’s going to be you.”
If you or a loved one needs financial assistance for a mammogram or other breast health care, call Komen Colorado at 303-744-2088 or visit our website.