She and her husband, Larry, had been without health insurance since he retired early because of health issues. The couple planned to enroll in COBRA, which allows former employees to retain their work insurance for a fee. However, they didn't realize it would cost them
Instead, they decided to go without until she turned 65, when
"I was never sick. The only time I was in the hospital was three times to have three kids. Never broke a bone," said Schneider, who's now 67. "So I figured we can manage for a year or so. Because we couldn't afford
But a few months before her 65th birthday, she noticed her breast was swollen and sore around the nipple. Her mother, grandmother and aunt all lost their lives to breast cancer, so it was something that quickly came to mind.
Schneider consulted her sister-in-law, a nurse, who referred her to
She stressed that she didn't have health insurance, but that didn't matter.
"They helped me. I'll tell you what, I don't know what I would've done without Adagio," Schneider said.
Through Adagio, she obtained
Her fears were soon confirmed: Schneider had breast cancer in her milk duct. She had a mastectomy and lymph node removal covered by
The rate of uninsured Pennsylvanians in 2014 was at 8.5 percent; in 2013, 9.7 percent.
Much to Schneider's relief, there are resources available for patients with cancer that cannot afford health care, let alone being able to pay out of pocket for costly chemotherapy, radiation, surgeries and doctor's visits that often become routine after a cancer diagnosis.
They offer three screening programs with various income requirements and other eligibility guidelines, providing mammograms, Pap tests, diagnostic tests and biopsies, among other cancer treatment needs.
"We do see a big need," said
While Adagio serves people with and without insurance, it most often sees women who might have been putting off seeing a doctor because of lack of coverage. Early detection is key for best outcomes.
"More often than not, most of the time these women have a problem that gets the ball rolling," she said.
In addition to cancer screenings, Adagio provides OB-GYN services, birth control, STD testing and prenatal care.
Emotional and ancillary coverage
In addition to referring patients to
For instance, the
Another program, called Pathways, which is through the Homemaker-Home Health Aide Service of
Those services go beyond the scope of the cancer treatments themselves.
"Some people have a ton of family support. Other people need total support from these services, rides, and you know, it's not all financial," said
Nonprofit hospitals are required by the
"We treat the patient. We don't treat the insurance card," said
Those who apply for charity care funding at Heritage Valley can be completely covered if their income is up to 300 percent of the federal poverty guideline, which is
However, even more of Heritage Valley's net revenue went to bad debt. Heritage Valley had roughly
Some of those unpaid balances could account for individuals who would qualify for charity care assistance.
"Bad debt when you look at it, it's really comprised of two things: patients who have the means to pay who don't (and those who) probably would qualify for charity care if they would just complete the application," Randall said.
It's a service that Schneider's husband ended up having to utilize while he was uninsured. He qualified for charity care at a
On top of their health issues, their longtime
Health insurance wasn't too stressful for much of her life. For many years, Schneider's longtime employer,
"My whole family was covered, and I paid nothing. I mean, literally, paid nothing. My husband worked at Hussey Copper for 25 years and he paid nothing in the beginning on his insurance," she said. "So we had two insurances, our whole families were covered, and we paid nothing. And then to go from that, you know? You don't realize how much everything costs."
Things have improved since her cancer diagnosis. Mary Ann and Larry are healthy and insured.
"We just had our 45th wedding anniversary," Schneider said. "And our kids all pitched in and bought us a trip. We went to
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