When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law, it made preventive care – including cancer screenings – free of charge to patients covered by private insurance and Medicare plans. Over the 10-year period after the ACA passed, fewer people without health insurance were diagnosed with cancer, more cancers were found at an early stage and cancer care became more accessible to all.
While the ACA certainly makes cancer screening tests more affordable and accessible, there are some cases where patients may still need to cover a portion of the costs:
- If a health plan was already in place before the ACA was passed, it may not provide the same level of coverage. Be sure to check with your insurance provider about your coverage before pursuing screening.
- Medicaid coverage for cancer screening tests varies from state to state, so it’s best to check with your state Medicaid department before pursuing screening.
- If you don’t have health insurance, reach out to your local health department to learn about any financial assistance programs that might be available to you. You can also see if you qualify for the recently signed American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, a law that provides assistance to those financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It focuses on lowering insurance premiums and improving access to affordable health care coverage.
It’s important to note that even if insurance plans covers cancer screening tests, they may not cover the screening tests according to the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommended screening schedule. Be sure to check with your insurance carrier to verify whether you’re eligible for certain cancer screenings, which tests are covered under your plan and how often you can get screened.
Finding affordable health insurance in Missouri
If you live in Missouri and are uninsured, there are resources that can help you find quality, affordable health coverage. The Cover Missouri Coalition, a project of the Missouri Foundation for Health, is committed to reducing the number of uninsured in Missouri and improving the health of those most in need. Their Find Local Help tool connects you with assisters who can help you find the best health care plan for you and your family. You can call Cover Missouri at 1-800-466-3213.
If you are a woman in Missouri looking to get screened, Show Me Healthy Women offers free cervical cancer and breast cancer screenings for those who meet age, income and insurance guidelines.
The St. Louis Regional Health Commission (RHC) also provides resources to help uninsured and underinsured Missourians. For more information on how to apply for Medicaid, please visit CoverSTL or call the RHC at 1-888-686-1744.
Finding affordable health insurance in Illinois
For those who live in Illinois and are uninsured, you have an array of options to help you find quality, affordable health coverage. HealthChoice Illinois is the statewide Medicaid managed care program that offers health plans managed by care coordinators. These coordinators can help you find doctors, manage your prescriptions, connect you with community resources and more. For more information on services offered by HealthChoice Illinois, call 1-877-912-8880.
Additionally, both the Application for Benefits Eligibility (ABE) and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) provide benefits for low-income individuals, ranging from food and cash assistance to health care coverage and help with Medicaid costs. For questions about Medicaid eligibility and financial assistance for health insurance, call the IDHS Help Line at 1-800-843-6154.
Billing and financial assistance
If you are concerned about the cost of cancer screening, we are here to help. BJC HealthCare offers financial assistance to help those who don’t have health insurance. For questions regarding billing, use the appropriate contact information below:
- Washington University Physicians: call 314-273-0500 or toll-free 800-862-9980. For more information, visit the Washington University Physicians website. To see which insurance plans Washington University Physicians accepts, click here.
- Barnes-Jewish Hospital: call 314-362-8400 or toll-free 855-362-8400. For more information, visit the BJC HealthCare website.
- Louis Children’s Hospital: call toll-free 855-362-8400. For more information, visit the St. Louis Children’s Hospital website.