Breast cancer is the second leading type of cancer in women, accounting for approximately one out of every three new cancer diagnoses in women. Overall, women have a one-in-eight chance of developing breast cancer over the course of their lives. Early detection through screening  improves the likelihood of successful treatment, so it’s important to know where you can obtain breast cancer screening.

Where can I get checked for breast cancer?

Your long-term doctor is the best starting point for questions about breast cancer screening tests like mammograms. If you don’t have a long-term doctor, women’s health clinics, hospitals and public health agencies may provide breast cancer screening services.

Talking to your doctor about breast cancer screening

Guidelines vary for when to start breast cancer screening and how frequently to get them. The expert groups that publish these breast cancer screening guidelines offer different recommendations. You should discuss breast cancer screening with your long-term doctor. They can give you advice based on your individual cancer risk factors, your age and your family history.

If you and your doctor decide that it’s time for you to begin getting mammograms, you will likely receive a referral for a specific diagnostic imaging center or clinic that performs the test. In some cases, your doctor may give you a list of centers or clinics to choose from or be able to schedule the appointment for you.

Where to find breast cancer screening if you don’t have a doctor

If you don’t have a long-term doctor, you can potentially receive breast cancer screening services by contacting:

  • Hospitals that offer mammography
  • Diagnostic testing centers that offer mammography
  • Women’s health clinics and other medical clinics
  • City, county or state departments of health
  • Other public health agencies and nonprofit organizations in your area

Also, keep an eye on community calendars for screening events that are open to the public. Some organizations and institutions offer these throughout the year or in October as a part of Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Forward provides routine preventive services for women, including cancer screening.  Forward physicians can help you decide on the most appropriate type and timing of breast cancer screening and provide referrals for mammograms and other testing that may be used in certain cases, such as ultrasound and breast MRI. 

How much does it cost to check for breast cancer?

This depends on whether you have insurance coverage, where you’re located and your income level.

Cost of breast cancer screening with health insurance

Any insurance plan governed by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) must pay for the cost of mammograms under preventative care coverage every 1 to 2 years for women over the age of 40. The law states that health insurance providers shouldn’t charge deductibles, copays or coinsurance for this care. In some cases, you may need to obtain a referral from your doctor in order for insurance to cover the screening tests.

If your health plan was created before the passage of the ACA, it may be grandfathered in. Grandfathered plans may not fully cover mammograms or may require you to pay deductibles, copays or coinsurance. Contact your health insurance provider to learn more about what you can expect to pay for mammograms and other breast cancer screening tests.

Breast cancer screening with Forward

Your Forward doctor will discuss breast cancer screening with you as a routine part of our visits. In addition, our doctor-led Cancer Prevention program includes genetic testing, blood work and comprehensive state-of-the-art screenings for breast cancer as well as the three other most common types of cancer in women: skin, lung and colorectal. While we do not offer mammograms, we do order mammograms for our members. 

The Cancer Prevention program involves more than just cancer detection. We act as your preventive care provider, using the information gathered through our in-depth analyses and examinations to develop a lifestyle change plan to address your individual risks for breast cancer and other common cancers.

At Forward, we bring advanced diagnostics into the primary care setting because we believe in giving you more information – and control.  Our longer visits allow for nuanced discussions on the benefits and risks of different types of cancer screening, so you can make truly informed decisions at your own pace.  And our monthly membership fee allows you freedom to schedule additional visits, to make it easy for you to get care when and where you need it. Forward replaces your existing primary care doctor and includes many more preventive, convenient services.

In the event you need services that are not currently included in your Forward membership, we work to manage your out-of-pocket costs. If a member has insurance, we coordinate with their insurance provider to facilitate specialist referrals, prescriptions, or emergency care within their provider network if needed. Savings can be compounded by paying for Forward membership using a tax-advantaged mechanism like an FSA or HSA.

Cost of breast cancer screening with Medicare and Medicaid

Provided that you meet the eligibility guidelines established by Medicare, you normally won’t have to pay for a mammogram. Medicare Part B covers 100% of the costs of qualified screening mammograms for women over the age of 40, and Medicare Advantage plans are required to cover at least as much as Medicare Part B does. In addition, Medicare will usually pay for the full cost of one base line mammogram for women between the ages of 35 and 39.

Medicaid coverage rules are established at the state level. Many states require Medicaid plans to fully cover the cost of mammograms for women over a certain age. Check with your plan provider for specific information.

Cost of breast cancer screening without health insurance

If you don’t have health insurance, you may be able to take advantage of self-pay cancer screening programs that offer mammograms at reduced prices. Local health departments, hospitals and women’s health clinics may also offer free mammogram events in your area.

You may also qualify for free breast cancer screening through the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This program is open to women who:

  • Lack health insurance or have a policy that won’t fully cover screening tests
  • Have a total annual household income that is 250% of the federal poverty level or less
  • Are 40 to 64 years of age. If you’re younger or older than that and considered at high risk, you may still qualify for the program

Is testing for breast cancer free?

Testing for breast cancer is not the same as screening. If your doctor suspects that you have breast cancer, you may require a diagnostic mammogram and other tests like a biopsy or MRI. These medical services are not considered breast cancer screenings.

How much you can expect to pay for diagnostic testing depends on which tests are being performed, where you live and whether  you have private health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. If you don’t have insurance, your doctor can discuss the cost of care and payment options with you.

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