Stories About Barriers to Care

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Access to health care is critical to reducing suffering and death from cancer and other chronic illnesses. Yet too many patients face barriers accessing the lifesaving prescription drugs, therapies and treatments they need because of out-of-pocket costs and insurer policies. Through state and federal advocacy, ACS CAN fights across the country to ensure that cancer patients and other individuals with complex and chronic illnesses have timely access to care, treatment services and prescription drugs.

Telling stories of patients and caretakers who have experienced these barriers to cancer care can help our lawmakers understand why it is critical to protect patients from these unnecessary hardships. Countless families have faced these barriers: read and watch some of their stories below.

Have you or a loved one faced cost or coverage barriers to accessing your care?

Stories Overview

Wilma

Access to health care is critical to reducing suffering and death from cancer and other chronic illnesses. Yet too many patients face barriers accessing the lifesaving prescription drugs, therapies and treatments they need because of out-of-pocket costs and insurer policies. Hear three stories of the difficulties individuals face in getting the care they need.

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Wilma: New Albany, IN

Wilma

When Mary’s mother-in-law, Wilma, decided to enroll in a clinical trial at the end of her life, she did it because she knew it could help someone else. Now, Mary wants everyone – regardless of what type of insurance they have – to be able to enroll in a clinical trial if they choose.

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Monica: Robbinsdale, Minnesota

Monica

Monica is a 28-year cancer survivor and is currently being treated for stage IV metastatic breast cancer. Even after 28 years, Monica still needs to constantly fight with her insurance company, which requires prior authorization any time she receives a new prescription.

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Mariah: La Crosse, Wisconsin

Mariah

Mariah is a childhood cancer survivor who, at 41, continues to suffer numerous treatment-related side effects. She has to fight her insurance company every three months to get the care she needs.

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DeAnn: Omaha, NE

DeAnn

DeAnn has been an oncology nurse for over 20 years, and throughout her career, has experienced the frustrating barriers patients go through to get the care they need.

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Faye: Sinking Springs, PA

Faye

Faye’s insurance company often denies doctor-ordered scans and treatments, sometimes creating delays of over a month. While the insurance company made Faye wait, her cancer didn’t.

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Dr. Mullin: Cornwall, NY

Dr. Mullin

Dr. Mullin has been a physician for over 30 years and has seen countless patients skip medications because they cannot afford them.

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Flecia: Summerville, GA

Flecia

In 2005, Flecia was diagnosed with very aggressive breast cancer. Fortunately, she qualified for Medicaid, which enabled her to enroll in a clinical trial.

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Rachel: Cherry Hill, NJ

Rachel

Though Rachel’s physician knew she needed an MRI, she also knew that she wouldn’t get her insurance to approve it without first prescribing physical therapy. Rachel had to endure weeks of pain and damage to her back before she was finally able to get an MRI, which revealed her cancer diagnosis.

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Bev: Weare, New Hampshire

Bev

When Bev began treatment for neck cancer it was critical that she didn’t vomit after chemotherapy since the bile would affect her treatment. Yet her insurance company wanted to force her to try cheaper medications than the one she knew worked for her.

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Sandra: Frederic, MI

Sandra

Sandra found a medication that finally cured her debilitating migraines. But after a few years, the medication was no longer available as a generic drug, and her insurance company would not cover it. Now, Sandra suffers through her migraines again, even though she knows there is a medicine out there that works for her.

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Valeria: Fresno, CA

Sandra

Valeria’s asthma medications are critical for her health and to keep her out of the hospital. But sometimes she can’t afford those medications.

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Dr. Woodbury: Memphis, TN

Sandra

Dr. Woodbury spends hours on the phone every day fighting with insurance companies over necessary care and treatments and wants to see these issues resolved in Tennessee. 

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Dr. Thaddeus Bell: Charleston, SC

Dr. Thaddeus Bell

Dr. Bell has been a family doctor for over 45 years, and is frustrated by the amount of time he has to spend talking to insurance companies on the phone.

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Latest Updates

April 14, 2021
Illinois

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Today, the House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation to expand coverage of biomarker testing – an essential step in accessing precision medicine treatments. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) has prioritized educating policymakers’ about the role of biomarker testing in precision medicine, which uses

April 12, 2021
National

Karen E. Knudsen, MBA, Ph.D., will be the next chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society (ACS) and its advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), starting June 1, 2021. She will take the reins from the retiring Gary Reedy, who has served as both organizations’ CEO since 2015.

April 5, 2021
New Jersey

NEW JERSEY PATIENTS DESERVE THE RIGHT MEDICINE AT THE RIGHT TIME 35 Patient and Provider Advocacy Groups Endorse Step Therapy Reform Legislation (A4815/S3051) April 2021 Dear Policymaker, On behalf of the New Jersey Step Therapy Coalition, an expansive and diverse group of patient advocacy groups who share a

March 29, 2021
Wyoming

The Wyoming Senate is set to consider House Bill 162 to increase access to Medicaid for an estimated 25,000 low-income, uninsured Wyoming residents. The bill passed the House last week, and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, and the Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO), urge the Senate to follow suit and pass this lifesaving legislation.