by Lauren Mandel
Unfortunately, it seems like everyone – in one way or another – has been affected by cancer. Whether you’ve faced the disease directly, or a friend or family member has worked to overcome it, cancer has become far too common.
Luckily, there are steps being taken to improve treatments and find a cure. In the month of November, individuals and organizations are working to raise awareness for three of the deadliest forms of cancer: stomach, pancreatic, and lung.
To help bring awareness to these diseases and all other forms of cancer, we’ve outlined a few steps you can take to prioritize your health during the month of November – and in the future.
Catch it early.
Under the Affordable Care Act, all health plans must cover specific preventive care services for adults, women, and children. All of these services and procedures are vital to maintaining good health, and there are a few which can specifically help prevent or treat certain cancers:
Tobacco screenings and intervention for tobacco users – Cigarette smoking is linked to 90 percent of all lung cancers. If you’re a current tobacco user, you can seek help to quit. And if you’ve smoked in the past, you can screen for specific types of cancers.
Colorectal cancer screening – When it comes to cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second deadliest cancer in the United States. This proves just how important colorectal cancer screenings are to your health.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine – While HPV is rather common (about one in four people are currently infected in the United States), it’s now preventable thanks to the HPV vaccine. HPV can cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers in women, and in men, penile cancer.
Mammograms – Although the American Cancer Society recently changed its frequency recommendation for mammograms, they are still vital procedures when it comes to preventing and diagnosing breast cancer. Check with your doctor to see what frequency is right for you.
Cervical cancer screenings – When cervical cancer is found early, it’s treatable and associated with a long survival rate. Getting cervical cancer screenings helps ensure that if you do get this type of cancer, it’s found as early as possible.
Contraception – Women who use contraceptives for five years or more can lower their risk of getting ovarian cancer by about 50 percent. However, this is a personal decision that should be discussed with your doctor.
Remember: You can only take advantage of these covered health care services if you have a qualified health plan.
Get the treatment you need.
Like preventive care services, health plans are also required to cover 10 Essential Health Benefits, including services which could help prevent or treat certain types of cancer.
Lab services, prescription drugs, and hospitalization are part of the 10 Essential Health Benefits, all of which could help you or a loved one prevent cancer or treat the disease. Without coverage, you may find yourself needing these services and then facing expensive medical bills on your own.
If you do have cancer, you cannot be denied coverage.
Something else we owe to the Affordable Care Act? You can no longer be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions, including cancer. So if you do get sick, don’t be afraid to enroll in coverage. Having health insurance can ensure you’re protected against out-of-pocket costs for services you need.
The best choice for your future health is to think ahead and get coverage now. You can visit our Marketplace to find the right health plan for your needs.