California Health Care and Insurance and What is this lump?
September 7, 2012 5:54 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone have any experience with using the California health care program to treat potential breast cancer? That's my worst case scenario, and yes, I'm scared to death. I'm also without insurance at the moment.

I'm one of those unemployed people without health insurance you hear so much about. I've got a couple of degrees, a decent work history, and the bad luck to be currently uninsured/unemployed when I found the lump in my breast last week.

A few months ago I tried to purchase insurance on my own. Insurance companies don't like hearing that I have fibromyalgia. One told me that, since I've never been refused insurance, it would be horrible to have a refusal on my record. Indicating, I guess, that this previous health condition could lead to a refusal. I'd not heard a company suggest that it'd actually be a bad idea to submit a request to buy insurance from them. This situation has made me so nervous about the whole healthcare thing that I don't want to be tied to this conversation even by a MeFi alias. Maybe that's overly paranoid, but at this point I can't tell.

Thanks to previous threads on the subject, I have just discovered there's a Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) in CA. Haven't read all that yet.

I'm happily in the right age group that I got into the Cancer Detection Program, and so far have seen the doctors and just took the tests today (mammogram and ultrasound). So far so good. Now I wait to find out what the lumps are, and what comes next. (I'm apparently not good at this "waiting and trying not to meltdown" thing. Which I'm thinking might be normal.)

Am now trying to figure out what happens if
1) I need a biopsy, will any CA services pay (or help pay), and
2) If I have cancer, is there are particular state program that will help? Has anyone used/have feedback on the PCIP? and
3) The more personal worry - I haven't told my parents yet and I know they're going to freak out. They're in their 70s and one has health problems. I'm waiting to tell them until I actually have test results to refer to rather than "I have no idea what it is and we'll have to wait it out." They don't react well to things happening to me that scare them (the lumps plus lack of insurance will do it), and I'm trying to pull myself together to be comforting about this. (Another reason I'm not rushing to tell them, I'm kind of a mess.) The lack of insurance is already scaring them. (Me too.) What's happening to me is pretty much their nightmare scenario.
4) If husband or I do get a job in the midst of all this, are we suddenly going to be out of any of these programs that may depend on our having no current income?

Problem is that there's a lot to read and cull through, and I can only take so much of this research at one sitting. And I may have missed something important or helpful in my searches. Or not read some of the websites I've linked clearly - I'm finding everything rather hard to process at the moment and I think it's messing with my reading comprehension skills.

I found these previous threads that were wildly helpful (I knew I'd find something like this in here, just no idea it'd be so near to what's going on with me): (2009) (2008)

But I also wondered if there was anything more recent, or something I could be missing. Or someone who hadn't chimed in on one of those threads with more info.

Where you come in: if you have any feedback or personal experience with numbers 1-4, I'd find it useful. Even if it's just "hey you didn't click X link on the sites you mentioned, it answers your question here." (Because I worry that answers could be staring me in the face and I've missed them.) Or "here's another thread that could help."
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
One tiny anecdote: my sis needed a lumpectomy, and was without insurance, and a hospital social worker hooked her up with a charity group that covered a huge portion of the cost. The remaining about, which was around $ 1500, the hospital allowed her to pay off at $25/month.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:11 PM on September 7, 2012

"Free treatment is available to all Californians who qualify through the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program. Information on this program is available on Mediā€‘Cal's website or call 1-800-824-0088 to speak with an eligibility specialist."

I'm not familiar with the Every Woman Counts, but I'm more familiar with the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment program. Hopefully it can feed you into the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment program easily if, god forbid, something is awry.

Wish I could be more helpful, hopefully this isn't something you've already seen before.
posted by circle_b at 6:23 PM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Here is a link to the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program. My mother-out-law was able to receive excellent care for her breast cancer at City of Hope through this program at no charge.

I hope that your lumps are benign, as they often are. If not, please email me and I will get together with my partner to try to remember the steps we took. Memories are fuzzy because it was 6 years ago. The cancer was stage III-B and my mother-out-law is healthy and cancer-free today.

Peace to you, sister. It's not time to freak out. There is help out there and you don't need to catastrophize it. You don't have the information to freak out yet (I know, easy for me to say). Feel free to email even if you just need a pep talk. I will, of course, respect your confidentiality.
posted by kamikazegopher at 8:52 PM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

medi-cal is awesome. How long have you been unemployed? That is actually a good thing with medi-caL.

The best thing is that the discharge manager at the hospital will actually do most of the paperwork for medi-cal.
posted by couchdive at 8:22 AM on September 8, 2012

[This is a followup from the asker.]
Thanks for the links to the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program - I think that's the program I'm in that's getting me the free testing. The down side - before both of us became unemployed we had some savings set aside, which have allowed us to live fairly anxiety-free - until this point. Unfortunately it's because of those savings that we now don't qualify for Medi-cal. Despite the fact that actually using that money to pay for anything medically serious means the money could easily be spent in a few minutes (given prices for generic operation with staff, etc.).

Will ask mod to post update on lumps when I get it - I'm still in "waiting for test results" hell atm. Thank you for all the info so far. Even anecdotal info helps give me something positive to think about.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:26 PM on September 12, 2012

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