If you couldn’t tell by all the pink everywhere, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
And one of the best ways to stop breast cancer in its tracks? Early detection (it works).
Though every woman should do breast self-exams each month, women over 40 should also consider getting a mammogram — an x-ray that examines breast tissue — every one to two years. (Here are specific guidelines.)
If you’re younger than 40, but have risk factors for breast cancer, you might need mammograms, too; ask your doctor for their recommendation.
Whatever your age, don’t avoid mammograms because of their cost.
Women today have a bounty of ways to get free and low-cost mammograms. Here are six excellent options.
1. Your Doctor
If you’re 40 or older and have a health insurance plan issued in the past four years, the Affordable Care Act requires your insurer to cover yearly mammograms with no co-payment.
Medicare and Medicaid also cover the cost of mammograms.
2. The National Breast Cancer Foundation
The National Breast Cancer Foundation partners “with medical facilities across the country to provide free mammograms and diagnostic breast care services to underserved women.”
Click here to search for a location near you.
3. The Susan G. Komen Foundation
This organization has affiliates in 120 American cities.
According to its website, its affiliate network “is the nation’s largest private funder of community-based breast health education and breast cancer screening and treatment programs.”
To learn what resources are available in your area, search for your local affiliate here. Once redirected, click on “Understanding Breast Cancer,” and then “Local Resources for You.”
Prefer to speak to someone?
Call the organization’s breast care helpline at 1-877-GO-KOMEN (1-877-465-6636), and the representatives will help you find low-cost options in your area.
4. The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program
The CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program “provides breast and cervical cancer screenings and diagnostic services to low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women across the United States.”
To qualify for this screening, you should be between the ages of 40 and 64, have no insurance or an insurance that fails to covers screening exams, and also live at or below 250% of the federal poverty level.
You can find out more information about your state or territory here.
5. The YWCA
Some YWCA chapters provide breast cancer screening and education to women who have no insurance or are underinsured.
Contact your local YWCA to see if it offers affordable mammograms.
6. Your Local Imaging Center
According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, many imaging centers offer reduced rates during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
You can search for a local mammography center on the FDA website.
You might be wondering why Planned Parenthood isn’t on the list. These popular clinics provide clinical breast exams, but not mammograms; if an abnormality is detected during your exam, the doctor will refer you to a provider of low- or no-cost mammograms like the ones above.
To learn more about mammograms — including how they work and how to prepare — check out this easy-to-read PDF from the Komen Foundation.
Whatever you do, don’t wait!
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this post reported that Planned Parenthood offers mammograms. We apologize for the error and have updated the post with the correct information.
Your Turn: Did we miss any options for free mammograms?
Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain. Editorial intern Jacquelyn Pica
helped with did all the research.