Buddy Check 12: Care for Uninsured Women - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

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Buddy Check 12: Care for Uninsured Women

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Vickie Craig Vickie Craig

Buddy Check 12: Care for Uninsured Women
By: Christy Hendricks

VIENNA, Ill. - At least 45 million Americans do not have health insurance, something many in the Heartland deal with every day.

That's why a state program in Illinois works to make sure women without insurance find the breast and cervical care they need.

The Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program provides mammograms and pap smears to women without health insurance.

For many it can mean the difference between life and death.

"It's a huge piece of mind to have this program to fall back on," said Vickie Craig.

Vickie first enrolled in the statewide program three years ago.

Since she doesn't have health insurance, Vicki was able to receive mammograms and had two lumps removed on the program.

"If it wasn't for this program, I'm sure I wouldn't have been able to have it removed with no insurance," she said.

Luckily, the lumps were benign.  But it's exactly why Program Coordinator Marla Groaning says the program is so important.

"Early detection is the key.  If we can find a breast cancer while it's still in the stage one.  Over 90% of those women have a long term survival," Marla said. 

Marla heads the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program in the seven most southern counties.

She saw a 10 percent increase in the number of women seeking services when the state dropped income guidelines a year ago.

About 400 women use the program each year in the southern seven, but that's less than 25 percent of the total 1700 women estimated that are eligible to receive the services.

What's more, all the services are completely free and that adds up when it comes to diagnostic mammograms, ultrasounds, and surgical biopsies.

"Like me with no insurance, it's just heaven sent because I know and I'm sure there's other women out there that would not have a mammogram or a pap smear or anything.  If you don't have any insurance, you don't go to the doctor unless you're sick or unless something's wrong," said Vickie.

If something is found, Marla works with the state to find paid care.

"Being able to do this and help women in the most trying time of their lives, it's just more rewarding that money could ever be," said Marla.

Call 1-888-522-1282 to find out if you're eligible or visit the IBCCP website.

Missouri has a similar program for underinsured women, but there are income guidelines.  Click here for more information.

Click here for more information about Kentucky's state breast and cervical cancer screening.

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