October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Nifty Loans wants to spread awareness and information to further the cause. We’ve dedicated the month of October to sharing info that can help women all around Australia get informed. Alongside medical treatment, financial strain can be a leading concern for women diagnosed with breast cancer. So, we decided to settle some queries about Medicare breast cancer.
Breast cancer in Australia
In Australia, breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women. So, chances are you know someone diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2018 alone, approximately 18,087 women and 148 were diagnosed with breast cancer. Yes, men can attract breast cancer as well, but it’s predominately a women’s health concern.
To understand how breast cancer affects everyday Aussies, take a look at few stats:
- Approximately 79% of new cases of breast cancer develop in women over 50
- On average 8 people die from breast cancer every day
- Approximately 5-10% of breast cancers are linked to strong family history or a genetic mutation
Some good news though, Australia has one of the top survival rates for breast cancer in the world. Organisations like Breast Cancer Network Australia work to raise money and spread information and awareness to help fight this disease.
Australia also has Medicare! Medicare breast cancer benefits can be tricky to navigate. Finding out what Medicare breast cancer covers and what it doesn’t can be a mammoth task. That’s why we’re to do all the digging for you!
Busted myths about breast cancer
Old wives tales have circled around the women’s community about breast cancer and it causes. So, before we dive into questions around Medicare breast cancer, let’s set the record straight and bust some myths surrounding breast cancer:
Myth #1: Wearing underwire or tight-fitting bras causes cancer
On your first bra shopping expedition, you may remember your mum deciding against a bra with underwire, because underwire supposedly caused breast cancer. Well, underwire has a bad rap for nothing! It’s innocent. Cancer Australia, Australian’s top cancer control agency, concludes researching doesn’t support the claim that underwire increases a women’s risk of breast cancer. So, ladies, you can start shopping for supported bras asap!
Myth #2: Using antiperspirants or deodorants causes cancer
The internet has given us many great wonders, including adorable cats playing pianos and access to instantaneous information, however, it’s also a cesspit for fake news and medical rumours. And nothing spreads faster than a classic medical scare. Swirling internet rumours suggest that using antiperspirants or deodorants absorbs chemicals into your skin causing toxins to build up in the breast. Much like underwire, there is not enough evidence to support this connection. So, don’t worry, your underarms are safe!
Myth #3: Abortion or miscarriages cause cancer
Let’s bust this myth quickly because it’s an ugly one; there is no evidence to support that abortion or miscarriages increase the risk of contracting breast cancer.
Myth #4: Breast implants cause cancer
Breast implants have a bad rap too, thanks to a bucket load of misinformation. Evidence suggests that silicone breast implants don’t increase the risk of breast cancer. There is, however, some evidence that points to breast implants causing a rare type of lymphoma. This type of lymphoma is extremely rare, only affecting 170 women worldwide. So, the potential risk is not as high as the rumours may suggest.
Myth #5: Stress causes cancer
The age-old adage seems to account many a health issue to stress. However, the link between stress and breast cancer is blurry. Currently, the research doesn’t suggest a link, however, some studies have delivered conflicting results. So, before we start #DestressifyingToFightCancer, let’s wait for some conclusive research.
Myth #6: A slight bump or knock causes cancer
Remember that rippling hit to the chest with a soccer ball? Was your first thought, “Now, I’m going to get breast cancer!” Let’s ease your mind. There’s no evidence to support that a punch to the breasts causes breast cancer, but no one is denying it hurts like hell!
Breast cancer rumours have circled throughout the years and have bombarded our pool of factual, researched information. So, if you see any other false chameleon pretending to be real, submit your question to Cancer Council’s iHeard website. You can ask your question and see if it’s fact or fiction.
Medicare breast cancer: covered
Now that we’ve busted some common myths surrounding breast cancer and its causes, let’s tackle some questions on what Medicare breast cancer benefits cover. It can be tricky to navigate the technicalities in public health, there are lots of expectations and criteria to meet to apply for different kinds of cover. With Medicare breast cancer coverage, every case is different.
To help clear things up a bit, we have you covered by looking at what is Medicare breast cancer approved. So, let’s answer some of the most common questions about what’s covered under Medicare breast cancer:
Is chemotherapy covered under Medicare?
The use of chemotherapy to treat breast cancer depends on the current stage of the disease. Unfortunately, Medicare doesn’t cover the costs of chemotherapy. Medicare works towards covering assessment and diagnose to help fight breast cancer by catching it early.
Does Medicare breast cancer cover radiation therapy?
The Australian government does subsidise radiation therapy as a treatment for breast cancer. The level of subsidy depends on what kind of radiation therapy you require. When it comes to coverage it’s best to chat with your doctor, as they’ll know all the technical names for your treatment and how much Medicare assists with the cost. For more information, you can also visit the Medicare Benefits Schedule, however, it can be confusing and fraught with jargon, so don’t hesitate to ask a doctor for advice.
So, what does Medicare breast cancer actually cover?
When it comes to treatment for breast cancer, it can tricky to discern what’s covered, what’s subsidised and when private insurance comes in handy. What Medicare does focus on is diagnosis and prevention.
When to comes to financial coverage, the Medicare Safety Net is your new best friend. The net is designed to shield patients from overbearing medical costs by providing higher Medicare benefits for out of hospital costs. It kicks in after you’ve reached the annual Medicare threshold for doctor visits or tests outside of the hospital.
The process of diagnosis can be the most painful period, both physically and mentally. So, the Medicare Safety Net is there to protect your finances during diagnosis. Services that are covered by the safety net include:
- GP and specialists’ consultations
- Scans and tests such as bone scans, CT scans, X-rays and ultrasounds
- Blood tests
Practically, having the Medicare Safety Net means you’ll still pay for the same amount for consultations and scans, however, you’ll receive a higher benefit in return.
You may be thinking these benefits sound super helpful, but you’re groaning at the suspected paperwork. Thankfully, registering for the Medicare Safety Net is pretty simple. If you’re applying as a single, you are already registered! If you’re applying as a couple or family, then you need to register as a couple or family. To register, head over to the Medicare website for more info.
Medicare Safety Net thresholds
The Medicare Safety Net has three thresholds outlined by the amount you spend on treatments covered under the net. Here’s a breakdown of the three thresholds for 2018:
- To reach the first threshold, your gap fees (the difference between the schedule fee and standard Medicare rebate), must amount to $430.90. After you reach the threshold, you’ll be eligible for 100% of the Medicare schedule fee for all the Medicare breast cancer services the safety net covers.
- The next threshold is mainly for concession card holders and families eligible for the Family Tax Benefit Part A. Once your gap fees have reached $668.10, you’ll receive the standard benefit and either an 80% rebate of expenses or the EMSN benefit caps. You’ll be able to claim whichever is lower.
- The final threshold is the extended general safety net. It applies to all Medicare card holders and kicks in when your gap fees reach $1248.70. If you reach the extended threshold, Medicare breast cancer will cover 80% of out-of-pocket expenses.
These threshold calculations change annually to account for inflation. To keep track of any changes, head over to the Medicare Safety Net info site.
If you have any questions about what benefits you’re entitled to, chat with your specialist.
Let’s talk private
Taking out private insurance is an enquiry a lot of Australians struggle to answer. Like most insurance, you don’t need it, until you really do. If you’re a young, single you may not find the need for private insurance.
Of course, with age comes wisdom, but there’s also a higher risk of falling into the odd medical expense. If you decide to take out private insurance to cover any future hefty medical expense, you can start by comparing plans and premiums at iSelect or Canstar.
Finding support for breast cancer patients
The financial burden isn’t the only concern for breast cancer patient. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is all about getting informed, raising money and connecting with people in our community. If you’re in need of support, there are plenty of outlets available all year long:
- BCNA Helpline: The Helpline team is available on 1800 500 258 between 9:00 am and Monday to Friday
- Professional telephone counselling: BCNA also provides professional one-on-one counselling to women and men with metastatic breast cancer and their families
- Peer support: To connect with people experiencing the same struggle, there are peer support groups available in each state
- Practical support: A breast cancer diagnose ripples into every area of life. You can seek help in employment, child care, community support at home, patient assisted travel and planning for the future
Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Breast Cancer Network Australia have created an inspiring campaign for real support and practical help. For those only reading about breast cancer, and not living it, there are ways to support our fellow sisters and brothers.
How to support breast cancer patients
There are so many different ways we can help and support breast cancer patients as a community and as individuals. With Christmas around the corner, let’s get in the giving mood and give a little to help others in need.
As a community member you can:
- Donateto the National Breast Cancer Fund/li>
- Donate your time by volunteering
- Spread awareness; wear some pink and a ribbon!
- Or, all the above!
If you know someone who’s recently been diagnosed, there are ways you can help:
- Make yourself available to listen
- Be yourself – don’t act differently because of their diagnosis
- Prepare some home cooked goodies
- Help out with pesky household chores
- Treat them to a day of pampering
- Ask how you can help
So, when others are in need, let’s do our best to lend a hand wherever we can.
It’s all about getting informed
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is all about raising awareness. Early prevention is at the front lines of fighting breast cancer. So, if you’re over 50, time to get checked. If you’re not yet eligible for mammograms, then do it yourself. Take care and know there are systems, like Medicare breast cancer, in place to support patients in their fight against breast cancer.
Let’s be friends
October is an important month for supporting and helping others in our community. And it’s certainly an act to carry on throughout the year. If you want to donate, but feel restricted by your tight budget, read how you can donate on a budget.