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Health Department: Health-care reform and free cancer screening programs

For more than 20 years, the Breast and Cervical Cancer Program at the Carroll County Health Department has offered free mammograms and gynecological exams to income eligible women. The Cigarette Restitution Fund Program at the health department has given free colonoscopies to eligible residents. These grants helped fill a void for those who were not insured or who had insurance with limited coverage.

As of January 1, many Marylanders became eligible for the new Medicaid Expansion. The income guidelines for adults to qualify for Medicaid increased from 115 percent to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. This meant that a family of three could have a yearly income of $27,000 and qualify. As the number in the household increases, the income levels go up. The 23 percent increase in allowable income has opened the door for many Marylanders to obtain free health care. Those over 138 percent and up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for the Maryland health-care exchange and can purchase more affordable health care.

While there are fewer uninsured Carroll County residents as a result of these changes, there may be many who are "under-insured." Under-insured refers to those with high deductibles or co-pays. This is common with health-care exchange programs. These insured individuals may refrain from obtaining health-care services (or additional tests when needed) due to the out-of-pocket expense.

The cancer screening programs at the health department may be able to assist income eligible residents who find themselves needing services that their insurance does not provide or cover entirely. We encourage residents to contact their insurance carrier if they have questions concerning coverage for mammograms, pap tests and colonoscopies. If they have a test with an abnormal result and need further testing, they should also ask the carrier about their financial responsibility. For those who have out-of-pocket expenses, our programs may be able to assist.

Remember: Cancer screenings are an important part of health care — and may save your life!

For questions concerning our services, please call the Breast and Cervical Cancer Program at 410-876-4423 or the Colonoscopy Cancer Screening Program at 410-876-4443.

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