The Cost of Breast Cancer

Cost of Breast Cancer Screening, Surgery and Treatment

The cost of breast cancer is over $25,000 and causes serious financial problems for many women, especially for African-American women. Some of us are single parents and live paycheck to paycheck trying to make ends meet. The lack of health insurance is also an issue. In 2016, 12% of black women between the ages of 19-64 did not have health insurance. And if you do have insurance, you may find that you are either under-insured or your deductible is too high to pay.

This information is not meant to mislead you about what your actual cost of breast cancer will be. Costs depend on where you receive your treatment and your insurance coverage. There will be many doctors’ appointments, several different medical tests, and lab work to pay for. And those are just the medical costs. Don’t forget to factor in transportation costs (gas, Uber, or public transit).  If you’re a single mom you may have to find someone to care for your children while you are in the hospital and when you first come home. You have to buy new clothes (open-front tops), mastectomy and sports bras, breast forms, and wigs for recovery after surgery. 

The below tables represent my real life costs for my screening tests (mammogram and biopsy) and surgery. Only one breast was removed. The procedure I had is the nipple-sparing mastectomy, A nipple sparing mastectomy is when the breast tissue is removed leaving the nipple and breast skin for reconstruction. 

Breast Cancer Screening

cost for mammogram

Does Insurance cover Mammograms? 

3-D Mammogram

Procedure
Procedure CostAmount Paid by InsuranceMy Out-of Pocket CostCost with No Insurance
Mammogram$962$520$40$962
In 2016, the cost for a mammogram was $962 according to my medical bills. This was a 3-D mammogram. Keep in mind that I live in the Washington DC metro area so medical costs may be higher (or lower) than where you live. Because my insurance covered the mammogram 100%, I only had to pay a $40 copay.

Without health insurance I would have had to pay the full $962.

Screening Procedure: Ultrasound Needle-Guided Biopsy

Breast Biopsy

Procedure
Procedure CostAmount Paid by InsuranceMy Out-of Pocket CostCost with No Insurance
TOTAL$5,489$2,023$150$5,489
Ultrasound Needle Core Biopsy$3,134 $1,579$150$3,134
Diagnosis Pathology (exam of tumors)$2,355 $444$0$2,355
As you have seen so far, there are a lot of costs associated with testing for breast cancer. I am fortunate to have a great insurance plan that covered a lot of the costs and I did not have a copay for every procedure.

Without health insurance I would have had to pay a little under $5,500


Cost for Mastectomy Surgery

Mastectomy

Procedure
Procedure CostAmount Paid by InsuranceMy Out-of Pocket CostCost with No Insurance
TOTAL$27,920 $18,855 $1,371 $27,920
Breast Tissue Removal $16,255 $14,587 $1,371 $16,255
Anesthesiologist 1 $1,350$139 $0 $1,350
Anesthesiologist 2$2,700 $1,286 $0 $2,700
Breast Surgeon Fee $5,944 $1,850 $0 $5,944
Lab Exam of Breast Tissue$1,671 $993 $0 $1,671
This table shows the cost for my nipple-sparing mastectomy, one breast). The below costs are only for the mastectomy surgery and does not include reconstruction costs.

Without health insurance I would have had to pay almost $28,000.


Here is an interesting article on the different costs for breast cancer treatment.


Costs associated with my breast reconstruction with an implant will be available soon.

 

in support of black women with breast cancer