Even Women With Insurance Put Off Mammograms

A new study reports that even women with insurance are putting off getting mammograms, says CBS News. The study looked at health insurance claims from women and found that nearly 50% of those 40 and older had not had a yearly mammogram — and nearly 40% of those over 50 didn’t even have one every two years.

CBS says:

And that was before a controversial government report last year suggesting women wait until age 50 before starting to get routine mammography and then only every other year.

“There’s definitely been a significant drop off,” said Dr. Jorge Pardes, director of the Jacqueline M. Wilentz Comprehensive Breast Center at Monmouth Medical Center.

Since the new guidelines, breast cancer experts like Dr. Pardes are seeing fewer patients for mammography.

“Those women that were on the fence, they just drop out and say, ‘I don’t really need this,'” said Dr. Pardes.

The American Cancer Society is still recommending that women over 40 get annual mammograms.

Study Finds Women Put Off Mammograms [CBS]

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  1. Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

    After hearing my mom describe a mamogram, I am terrified of them. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

    • pop top says:

      You just get your breasts smushed between two plastics discs. Its not something to be terrified of though.

      • Ihaveasmartpuppy says:

        Exactly. If you tend to get sore breasts during a certain time of the month, schedule it to avoid that time. It’s over quickly, and interesting to look at – all flat like that.

      • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

        I guess it scares me because erm… I don’t have anything to smush. And she described it as a vice and the squishing and…. ugh.

        I have about 15 years to worry about it though, I guess.

      • CrankyOwl says:

        It’s more like a tortilla press for boobies ;-)

        Looking forward to it next week…

    • Eric0001 says:

      Yeah, my mother dreads them, insisting she’d rather get cancer and die. It’s one of my many son-duties to make her go when I’m up there. Her description is that it’s like having someone stretch them out and drop the biggest encyclopedia you’ve ever seen on them.

    • whittygirl says:

      I’ve had a horrible time with mammograms, and I’m voting no unless I absolutely have to or until new technology is available. Apparently my breasts are dense (don’t ask me what that means) so I pretty much look like I’ve got tumors everywhere because it’s looking for dense tissue. But when you redo the mammogram and look at another angle, everything is fine. It was horribly painful and I was sore for days after both of them.

      Until their efficiency goes up, I’ll stick with the manual exam.

    • katarzyna says:

      The experience varies from woman to woman. For me it’s a few seconds of squishy discomfort, not that bad.

  2. Out For Delivery says:

    Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they aren’t very effective at preventing cancer anymore?

    “In the new study, mammograms, combined with modern treatment, reduced the death rate by 10 percent, but the study data indicated that the effect of mammograms alone could be as low as 2 percent or even zero. A 10 percent reduction would mean that if 1,000 50-year-old women were screened over a decade, 996 women rather than 995.6 would not die from the cancer — an effect so tiny it may have occurred by chance.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/23/health/research/23mammogram.html

  3. Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

    Strange that women would prefer not to subject themselves to a uncomfortable to painful exam that might not be that effective…

    I’m pretty sure there are many men out there who are not diligent about prostate screenings because of the discomfort level.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I really don’t understand why people would get worked up by a prostate exam. It doesn’t take long and is already factored into the cost of a physical.

      I can understand putting off a colonoscopy because it’s incredibly expensive, has some associated risks, and is very unpleasant. But even then, the rewards completely outweigh the risks. If my father in law had his done when he was supposed to have, he’d likely be alive today.

      • Winter White says:

        Actually, by far the worst part of the colonoscopy is the part you don’t pay for–the prep.

        I’m sure a lot more people would do it just for the Versed nap except for the whole 4 gallons of laxatives part of the party.

        • knackeredmom says:

          Amen to that! I want the prep part to be a heavily medicated experience. Go-Lytely my a$$! (Pun intended.)

        • msbask says:

          I had my colonoscopy wide awake, so I can absolutely attest to the fact that the prep is MUCH worse than the test (presuming you can just accept it for what it is, and don’t embarrass easily).

      • Jubes says:

        I had one a few years as part of a diagnosis. The prep was terrible, but the actual colonoscopy was absolutely painless! I got general anesthetic and slept through the whole thing. The only bad part was trying to remember what kind of digestive cookies they gave me after because they were awesome! Also, to this day I still argue with the bf on whether or not I ate a Big Mac when we got home.

  4. osiris73 says:

    As a man who recently had to have a mammogram, even with good insurance, it cost me about $400 out of my own pocket. Why? Because I’m a man. Had I been a woman it would have been covered differently.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I wonder what the logic for that is. I imagine it’s considered preventive care for women but is only conducted on men when a problem is suspected and then it’s considered diagnosis/treatment.

    • jbandsma says:

      Not really. Because I know from our own insurance…which claims that they pay 100% for mammograms…that between $400 and $600 is what you end up paying out of pocket. Yes, the insurance does pay 100% of the mammogram itself. But they pay 0% for it to be read and interpreted. And you also end up with a $70 to $100 fee for the results to be transmitted to your PCP.

  5. Red Cat Linux says:

    Maybe it’s being told you cannot wear deoderant prior, which means you have to do it first thing in the morning, and lose several hours of work, then having to put sensitive flesh in the COLD mammomasher (the real name of the device was the Mammomat – but that hardly describes what it does), and then be told that the image was not clear enough, it’s time for the sonogram!

    You get scanned by three different people who cannot find a lump with an X-Ray, sonogram and all six hands while you are pointing at the damn lump for them .

    They couldn’t find outer space with a radio telescope.

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      Yes! Same thing here!

      I had to start having them early because of a lump, and I can say the reason I put them off and put them off is that they’re painful!

      • Red Cat Linux says:

        And when you have a lump AND they put you in the mammomasher… I don’t think I’ve ever cussed in a medical office before that.

        I’ve been having mammography for a few years now. They haven’t gotten any better at it, even when I’ve had an actual palpable lump. I literally had an argument with the once guy doing the sonogram (which for anyone who might still be reading and doesn’t quite grasp this) there is nothing like being stripped to the waist, covered in goo, and having a discussion about how a bump is plainly visible from the surface with a guy who is not even your own doctor, but the imaging tech.

        By the time the lump was operated on, I wanted to find the twerp and throttle him.

        Yes – I fully understand why some women put it off.

  6. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    Even with insurance, there are cost factors involved with getting a mammogram. If you have a high deductible, you’d wind up paying cash for it anyways. It’s getting harder and harder to make contributions towards an HSA account when premiums are going up so much each year. Requiring insurers to pay for preventative care with no cost share is a short term solution but that just results in higher premiums, making more people not buy insurance. Our family plan was just raised about 19% and will cost about $1,100/month next year. We’re very likely going to join the ranks of the uninsured next year as a result.

    Also, in a bad economy, taking any time off from work can potentially look bad even when you have unused sick days. It’s not surprising that people aren’t getting expensive and unpleasant procedures that involve taking time off of work.

  7. lemortede says:

    I for one feel that that we should be doing everything we can to preserve and protect our nations breasts.

  8. dulcinea47 says:

    I wonder how many women (who have insurance) talked with their doctors about whether or not they really *need* a mammogram before deciding not to get one.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I think a bit of vanity goes into that as well. I’m of the mindset that vanity be damned, if I need to go to the doctor, I’ll do it if it means that I can stay healthy. What’s worse – being embarassed right now, or the regret later when you realize you could’ve done something to help yourself but didn’t ask questions because you were embarassed? I spent a lot of time in doctors offices when I was a kid – doctors don’t scare or intimidate me, and there’s no topic I can’t discuss with them anymore.

  9. keepher says:

    Why don’t they stop talking to men about why women are not having mammograms? Women don’t get them because it is an uncomfortable procedure and just one test with a tech who has been doing them for far to long causing muscle injury and bruising is enough to keep anyone away from them.

    My suggestion to my doc after a lumpectomy? How about he put his penis in there and explain to me why women hate the procedure. Not sure I would have done that had I not still been under the affects of anesthesia but it got my point across.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I think it’s a bad idea to assume that people of the opposite sex can’t relate or understand medical issues for organs they don’t have. My PCP and urologist are both women and with no hesitation, trust both of them when it came time to have vericocele surgery and later a vasectomy. My PCP is every bit as competent (and gentle) when it’s come to prostate, hernia, and testicular exams.

      • IT-Princess: I work in IT, you owe me $1 says:

        I think that’s more about the person, not their sex. My first gyne was a female and she was rough, I really didn’t like her. Though when I was 16 I swore I would only have a female, I have had 2 male gynecologists since then and they’re awesome. I thought maybe because they don’t have my lady parts that they’re more gentle, but it could be total coincidence.

        But I think her point was… you don’t want your gentle parts smushed, whether it’s a penis or breasts.

      • keepher says:

        Actually it was my point, almost. My point is that they have moved heaven and earth to address men’s health or physical issues while women were put on the back burner or told it was all in their heads. The all in your head comments came from male medical professionals.

        With all of the advancements in medicine for some reason no one has given any thought to developing a test for women that is not so uncomfortable. They don’t want to do scans which are so much more comfortable and are more definitive in what they pick up because of cost. Yet so much more could be saved by detecting problems that not even a mammogram can see.

        They need to put these torture devices in the basement some where and hide their shame that it was ever an acceptable means to use on women.

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          Isn’t breast cancer one of the most well funded and publicized subjects of medical research?

          • keepher says:

            That money is going more to understanding and curing breast cancer. They have developed thermal imaging to make it easier for Docs to interpret but not much, if anything, is going to developing a new way to do the test.

            As I stated before, doing an ultra sound is far more comfortable than having a very sensitive part of the body slammed between two hard surfaces.

    • Rudiger says:

      Men are recommended to go on a similar schedule for prostate screenings. I think we can understand each other’s pain.

      • kalaratri says:

        A prostate exam is more like a pelvic exam.
        Also, whenever I hear men bitch about a prostate exam, I wonder if they’ve asked their partner to have anal sex at any point.

        • Rudiger says:

          I guess that answers the question about which sex can’t relate to the other’s uncomfortable procedures!

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        If your prostate exam hurts, I imagine you have some real problems.

      • msbask says:

        Seriously? A prostate exam is a finger in the ass. Half the population is doing that already and calling it sex play.

        To compare the discomfort of a prostate exam to a mammogram is ridiculous.

    • Willow16 says:

      I have always said that if men had to have their testicles squished for a diagnostic test, they would find an alternative pretty quickly.

  10. chiieddy says:

    Just for people to note:

    My 35 year old personal trainer just completed radiation after her double mastectomy due to breast cancer.

    It’s something to take very seriously, no matter what age you are.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      It’s definitely scary. My aunt died from breast cancer when she was only 40.

  11. IT-Princess: I work in IT, you owe me $1 says:

    Sure these things are important, but I’m sure it’s not the only exam that women put off. Plenty of men put off their annual screenings because of fear/time/unfun factor.

  12. jessjj347 says:

    If your at risk, it’s recommended to get them before 40! How do you know as a layman if you’re at risk? If people in your family have had breast cancer…

  13. Scribblenerd says:

    They HURT LIKE HELL.

  14. The cake is a lie! says:

    I can think of a lot of procedures which are unpleasant, but somewhat necessary. ESPECIALLY if you are at risk for something. Nobody wants cold rods shoved up their privates or sensitive parts squished and mashed. It is unpleasant and in our western culture, could be perceived on a psychological level as embarrassing and demeaning. It isn’t meant to be, of course, but our western culture of modesty and privacy makes our bodies scream in protest to stuff like that. Kind of like how your mind won’t let you jump out of an airplane or off a bungee platform. It is just trying to avoid pain and keep you safe. I’m sure if you are able to convince your brain that the procedures are necessary, then it would be easier to endure.

    • Brie says:

      I can endure the uncomfortable and invasive procedures. THIS is what I detest:

      Go to practitioner and get referral
      Call radiology clinic, get put on hold, negotiate for appointment, wait for appointment day to arrive
      Go to clinic, check in, wait
      Get called by receptionist, get handed forms to fill out while I wait
      Fill out forms, hand them back in, wait
      Get called into back rooms (YAY IT’S FINALLY MY TURN!), change into gown, WAIT.

      ugh.

  15. ash says:

    I am not even close to the mammogram, but unless new evidence comes out, I will probably not get regular screenings til 50. One reason is the gov’t report, the other, the overtreatment of DCIS (stage “0” breast cancer)

  16. dush says:

    It’s a good thing testicular cancer isn’t screened the same way.

  17. JulesNoctambule says:

    I wonder how many women are worried their insurance companies will try to screw them over if a routine mammogram shows any potential issues? Me, I can’t get insurance — doesn’t matter if I have cancer or not, because I couldn’t afford any treatment if I did.

  18. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    I need annual mammos at 37 b/c I have fibrocystic breasts. I don’t get them b/c my deductible is high and my insurance only pays a tiny amount on preventative care. I end up paying a lot for those mammos, especially since they are inevitably followed by the ultrasound. My mom and grandma have fibrocystic breasts and we have no history of breast cancer, so I pass on the several hundred per year for these tests.

    • Slave For Turtles says:

      I didn’t think that mammograms were recommended any more for fibrocystic breasts. I thought it was MRIs. At least that’s what I’ve been told by a couple of docs, but I don’t believe them entirely. Unless they could guarantee that I’d get the MRI and not the tit-vice I’m not going in for a baseline. “It depends on the hospital.” Not helpful. I understand the MRI is more expensive, too.

  19. yessongs says:

    How would you like to have your boobs squished between two plates of glass? Not fun.

  20. Bryan Price says:

    That’s creepy. My wife just got a call from the insurance company complaining that she hadn’t had her mammogram done this year.