For more than 30 years, October has been National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the US. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women, second only to skin cancer. With more than 200,000 women diagnosed each year, awareness can save lives through early detection and lowering risk. The main risk factors of breast cancer include being a woman and being older, which means almost any woman can be diagnosed with no family history or other known risk factors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends healthy living habits such as maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise, getting plenty of regular nighttime sleep, and avoiding carcinogens as well as to breastfeed any children. These steps may help to reduce one’s risk

to breast cancer. The US Preventive Service Task Force recommends that women between the ages of 50 to 74 should have a breast cancer screening called a mammogram every two years. Women in their 40s should begin consulting with a doctor about when to start and how often to get screened, often influenced by any family history of breast cancer. Men can also get breast cancer, though it is rare; less than 1% of breast cancer diagnoses are found in men. Breast cancer can present with a wide variety of symptoms or none at all. Symptoms can include a change in size or shape of one’s breast, pain in the area, nipple discharge other than breast milk, or a lump in the breast or underarm. These…

This week is National Health Center Week. As health care has become more and more expensive, the need for low-cost health care has increased. Many people living in more rural parts of the country have a very limited number of options to see a doctor, and depending on their insurance status the number of available “in-network” doctors is even lower. Many people do not regularly see their doctor, only seeking help when a more serious condition arises. It can be a scary situation to be uninsured and have an unforeseen medical problem come up. This week is meant to celebrate and raise awareness of local community owned and operated clinics providing high quality, cost effective, accessible care to more than 25 million Americans. One of the

most popular sections of the NeedyMeds website is our listing of Free, Low-Cost, and Sliding-Scale Clinics. We list three different types of clinics on NeedyMeds.org. The first are free clinics, which provide services at no cost to the patient. The second are low-cost clinics that usually have a low flat-fee for all patients or types of visit. The third are sliding-scale clinics; the price for these clinics is based on the patient’s ability to pay, and is usually derived from their income and family size as it relates to the federal poverty level. Each clinic offers a different variety of services. Many clinics are just medical clinics and do not offer any other services, and there are also many strictly dental clinics. There are…

This past Mother’s Day launched the 18th annual National Women’s Health Week. Led by the US Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, the goal is to empower women to make their health a priority and raise awareness of the steps one can take to improve their health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends many common measures, such as proper health screenings, staying physically active, eating healthy, and promoting other healthy behaviors. Healthy behaviors include getting enough sleep, being smoke-free, washing your hands, not texting while driving, or wearing a seatbelt, a bicycle helmet, or sunscreen when appropriate. Furthermore, the National Women’s Health Week website has suggestions for women in their 20s to their 90s.   The repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)/new

healthcare law awaiting a vote in the U.S. Senate after passing through the House of Representatives removes a regulation forbidding insurance companies from excluding coverage of pre-existing conditions. Prior to the ACA, pre-existing conditions included many routine women’s health issues including pregnancy and Cesarean sections. The American Health Care Act (AHCA) also removes the ACA’s essential health benefits guidelines, many of which were in place to promote and ensure women’s health. There have been reports that being a victim of sexual assault or domestic abuse would qualify as a pre-existing condition under the AHCA. While this is not specifically the case, follow-up treatments for assault such as STI-prevention or injuries sustained through abuse can lead to higher insurance costs or…

The women of NeedyMeds

Today is International Women’s Day. International Women’s Day started in 1908 when 15,000 women marched through New York City to demand shorter hours, better pay, and voting rights after being oppressed and mistreated in the workplace since the industrial revolution. The movement spread across the globe in the following years, reaching Europe by 1910 and Russia by 1913. International Women’s Day was officially recognized by the United Nations in 1975. Women’s health is an important part of International Women’s Day. Women remain an underserved community with unique healthcare costs that are often overlooked by those drafting insurance guidelines. In a previous blog post, we explored how Planned Parenthood has provided low-income men and women with affordable care including cancer and STI screening, pre-natal care, and

help finding further assistance through grants or government programs. Since then, funding cuts and new state laws forcing Planned Parenthood clinics to close has dropped the number of people screened for cancer by nearly 250,000. A newly proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act (ACA; aka Obamacare) includes cutting off federal funding to Planned Parenthood because they also provide abortions, despite the fact that abortions make up only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services and zero federal funds go towards paying for abortions. Federal funds make up 60% of Planned Parenthood’s budget, of which most comes as reimbursement from Medicaid for routine coverage such as cancer/STI screenings and maternity healthcare. It is estimated that these cuts would cause 390,000 women to lose access to affordable care…

January is National Cervical Health Awareness Month in the United States. With all women being at risk for cervical cancer, it’s important to be mindful of the health risks, symptoms, and resources available to those in need. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates 12,000 people are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and about 4,000 die from it annually. The main cause of cervical cancer is human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that can be passed between people through sex or any genital skin-to-skin contact with someone who has the virus. HPV is so common that most people will have it at some point during their lives without ever developing symptoms. About 90% of cases are cleared naturally by the immune system within two

years; however, there is no way of knowing which individuals will go on to develop health problems. Some strains of HPV can cause warts around genitals or in one’s throat, while others can cause normal cells in the body to turn abnormal—possibly leading to cancer over time. Other factors that can increase your risk for cervical cancer are smoking, having HIV, using birth control pills for an extended time (five or more years), or giving birth to three or more children. The most important thing one can do to prevent cervical cancer is to have regular screening tests starting at age 21. Regular Pap tests performed by a doctor are the main defense against cervical cancer. There are vaccines for HPV that can greatly decrease…