For Uninsured People With Cancer, Securing Care Can Be Like Spinning a Roulette Wheel

by | Apr 10, 2023 | Health

Eighteen months after April Adcox learned she had skin cancer, she finally returned to Charleston’s Medical University of South Carolina last May to seek treatment.

By then, the reddish area along her hairline had grown from a 2-inch circle to cover nearly her entire forehead. It oozed fluid and was painful.

“Honestly, I was just waiting on it to kill me, because I thought that’s what was going to have to happen,” said the 41-year-old mother of three, who lives in Easley, South Carolina.

Adcox had first met with physicians at the academic medical center in late 2020, after a biopsy diagnosed basal cell carcinoma. The operation to remove the cancer would require several physicians, she was told, including a neurosurgeon, because of how close it was to her brain.

But Adcox was uninsured. She had lost her automotive plant job in the early days of the pandemic, and at the time of her diagnosis was equally panicked about the complex surgery and the prospect of a hefty bill. Instead of proceeding with treatment, she attempted to camouflage the expanding cancerous area for more than a year with hats and long bangs.

If Adcox had developed breast or cervical cancer, she likely would have qualified for insurance coverage under a federal law that extends Medicaid eligibility to lower- …

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