Breast Cancer Patient Denied Treatment Because He's a Man


man with breast cancerWhen 26-year-old Raymond Johnson checked himself into the emergency room last month for a throbbing pain in his chest, the diagnosis shocked him. He had breast cancer. What came after that was an equally traumatizing blow. He was denied the Medicaid program that covers breast cancer treatment -- because he's a man.

In order to qualify for the breast cancer program (the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act of 2000), one must meet a litany of eligibility requirements -- all of which Johnson met, save for one. See, in order to receive the coverage, one's cancer must be diagnosed by an "early detection" program funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In South Carolina, where Raymond lives, this screening program is only offered to women between the ages of 47 and 64. In other words, since men don't qualify for the early screening program, they're not covered by the cancer treatment act.

Does anyone else see a problem with this system?

Actually, yes. The state Medicaid agency agrees. The department called the federal policy "discriminatory" and for at least the second time in two years is calling on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to change it. They said in a statement:

We are again urging CMS to reconsider. It's a very clear example of how overly rigid federal regulations don't serve the interests of the people we're supposed to be helping.

I lost someone very near and dear to me to this awful disease, so my heart aches a little harder when I hear about someone diagnosed with it. But when I hear of people who can't get proper treatment or coverage, my blood boils. My mother's battle with cancer wasn't a long one -- and it certainly wasn't a pretty one -- but there was never a time when coverage or money was an issue for her and our family. She had good insurance, so we were always comfortable with the care she was receiving. That should be the case for everyone in this country.

In addition to the emotional and physical pain Raymond is going to experience while battling this disease (not to mention, most likely, a small sense of embarrassment for being diagnosed with a "female disease"), he's going to have to deal with financial troubles as well. It's going to be an non-stop uphill red tape battle for him all because he was born a man.

I am fully aware that breast cancer is predominantly a "woman's disease," but the fact is, 2,140 men are diagnosed with it each year. They should be covered as well, because, as Raymond himself eloquently put it, "Cancer doesn't discriminate, so this program shouldn't discriminate."

Do you think Raymond should be covered?


Image via TerryJohnston/Flickr

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Kelly Clark

I think that he does deserve to be covered. It doesn't matter to me that he is a man. He deserves to live like any other human being.

Ashleigh Munson

Seems like women aged 46 or under are also getting shafted by this. It needs to change. Cover everyone with the disease, or don't cover anyone. You can't pick and choose based on age or gender, it's illegal (and immoral).

Diana McElroy-Van Allen

As Raymond clearly stated, Cancer doesn't discriminate. When I was in college, I had done a presentation on Breast Cancer. Bringing awareness to students both male and female. The men were astonished at the statistics for their gender. Awareness needs to be on the uprise not only for women, but men as well. My prayers and thoughts go out to Raymond during this time in your life.

Lee Ann Dowell

He deserves the same coverage as I got, as he stated cancer does not discriminate.. It does not matter who you are, what color you are, what gender you are we all deserve the same respect and treatment.

Gloria Juceam

My late husband had Breast cancer.Breast cancers as well as any other type of cancer has no age limit nor no sex gender. I sincerely beleive that this man as well as ANY other man who is facing this horrible disease should get the treatment there is out there. I am a cancer survivor myslf. It is very upsetting how this type of cancer is not so out in the open ! YES MEN DO GET BREAST CANCER!

Pegi Allen

I can't believe this!!! CANCER is CANCER and it isn't unheard of for a man to be diagnosed with breast cancer! What is wrong with this country and the people who make these decisions for a human life? How would it feel if they had to walk in his shoes? You got it...decisions would be different!

colin... colins_mom

I agree, he does need to be covered. When my mother was going threw treatments for breast cancer there was a gentleman also receiving care for the same thing he was a sweet man and he reminded me that all people can have this disease. Since then my state has made it so that insurance companies (including state funded insurance) can not discriminate on treatment for the simple fact of gender. All services must be available to both men and woman alike.

Nancy Laco-Rowley

This Country is getting Way out of Control! As I had said during all those Budget Talks...Government is taking $ from the Vital Programs that are Needed to pay of the Debt. Tea Party & Republican's have an Obligation to Help not only the rest of the country, but Also their Constituents. I'm Sure they have ppl in their Districts that Have to Depend on Medicare/Medicaid. Y can't Congress Lower their Pay & Raise Taxes on the Wealthy so as to b able to Pay for things like this. The Man has Breast Cancer, obviously He should have the same Right to Treatment as any Woman. Stop all these Racist attitudes & treat ppl equally.

nonmember avatar Janet Cole

Yes I belive everyone young and old should be covered for cancer bo matter what type u have. It is not a fun disease to deal with. I am a 2 year surviver of cancer and my family faught with my. But the 1 who really brought me through is GOD homself and my faith in him. But like I said everyone young and old and enbetween should all have coverage for cancer. God Bless All

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