According to a study recently published in the Journal of Women’s Health, nearly three in four low-income women cite perceived substantial financial barriers to undergoing cervical cancer screening.
Caitlin B. Biddell, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues surveyed 702 low-income, uninsured, or publicly insured women (aged 25 to 64 years old) who were not up to date on cervical cancer screening according to national guidelines. Participants were questioned about perceived financial barriers and costs related to screening.
The researchers found that 72 percent of participants perceived financial barriers to screening, including screening appointment costs (71 percent), follow-up/future treatment costs (44 percent), lost pay due to time missed from work (6 percent), and transportation costs (5 percent). The perceived out-of-pocket cost of screening ranged from $0 to $1,300, with a median expected cost of $245.
Perceived costs to screening were associated with being uninsured versus publicly insured, being younger (25 to 34 years old versus 50 to 64 years old), being white versus Black, and not reporting income data. The racial differences in perceived costs to screening suggest that other nonfinancial barriers to screening, such as systemic inequities in access to care and quality of care, are more potent or immediate for Black (vs. white) women.
“Providing greater cost transparency and access to financial assistance may reduce perceived financial barriers to screening, potentially increasing screening uptake,” the authors write.
Several authors disclosed financial ties to medical technology and pharmaceutical companies.