"It's especially important for women to see a health care provider for preventive screenings like mammograms and Pap tests," said Pat Fralick, Director of Family & Community Health at the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. "They can find cancers when they are very small and easier to treat."
Fralick said women without health insurance or without coverage for mammograms may be eligible for free screening at Health Department offices if they meet certain income guidelines.
"Many women are surprised at how high the income guidelines are for the Breast & Cervical Cancer Control Program (BCCCP)," she said. "They think Health Department programs are only for people with severe financial needs."
Income guidelines are based on family size. For example, a woman with a family of four can have an income up to $53,000 and qualify for BCCCP. Services include a clinical breast exam, Pap test, mammogram, and if further testing is needed that is covered too. Cancer treatment is covered by the Medicaid Treatment Act.
A few appointments in early June are still available for eligible women at Health Department clinics in Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties.
It is important to celebrate National Women's Health Week to remind women to take care of themselves. Women are often the caregivers for their spouses, children, and parents and can sometimes forget to take care of their own health," said Fralick. "We say 'Do it for yourself, do it for your family' because research shows that when women take care of themselves, the health of their whole family improves."
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For additional information about the BCCCP program, or to schedule an appointment in Mancelona, Charlevoix, Petoskey/Harbor Springs, or Gaylord, call 800-432-4121.