Even though most preventive care, including screening mammograms, is available without coinsurance to patients, other "hidden" costs of preventive care may still keep young, low-income women from getting breast lumps examined in a timely fashion, a study published Nov. 11 in Cancer suggests.
According to a survey of 585 women younger than 41 recently diagnosed with breast cancer, 80 percent of them discovered the abnormality themselves. Seventeen percent--mostly women with limited finances--waited at least three months after finding the problem to see a doctor, HealthDay News reported, adding that 12 percent of women who delayed seeking care received their diagnosis at least another 90 days after their initial appointment.
"The findings may lead to research focusing on whether reducing co-pays and hidden costs of seeking medical care--such as parking charges, child-care expenses and lost wages--may improve the timeliness of diagnosis in this population," said study leader Kathryn Ruddy, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., in a statement obtained by HealthDay.
With these results in mind, practices can investigate ways to reduce barriers that may afflict their own patient populations, such as parking vouchers and possibly expanded office hours to allow patients to visit without missing work. Offices can also send the message that they are amenable to women bringing children with them to appointments by stocking items such as crayons, books and toys.