Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program
Through the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, women who qualify for services can receive free prevention and treatment for these common cancers. The program provides breast exams, mammograms, pelvic exams and Pap tests at no cost to members. It is not an insurance plan, and is designed for those who are either uninsured or whose plans don’t cover these services. Beginning in 2006, the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program was expanded to include a large population of Illinoisans susceptible to breast and cervical cancers. Whether you are receiving preventive services or whether you have been diagnosed with cancer previously, free care is available through this program if you’re eligible. In the first 15 years of the program, more than 66,000 women across Illinois were screened for breast and cervical cancers.
Preventive care is so essential to maintaining your health that it is a requirement by federal law for all insurance plans to make it free. Before that law — the Affordable Care Act — was in place, the increasing number of breast and cervical cancer victims gave rise to the need for an early detection and cancer treatment program. This program was created by the federal government, which provided funding to each state that chose to set up a BCCP. Second to skin cancer, which can be more easily prevented, breast cancer affects more women than any other cancer. Cervical cancer via HPV is also increasingly widespread, but it can be prevented with immunizations and lifestyle changes.
If breast cancer is detected while it’s still early, the condition can be treated with success. By receiving regular mammograms and breast exams, a provider can help you detect cancer before it develops, increasing the chances of recovery and leading a healthy life.
Early detection of cervical cancer also is helpful, as it can be more easily treated. Unfortunately, there are typically no symptoms that make the condition evident, making is especially important for women to be regularly screened and receive a Pap test. Pap tests help identify any abnormal cells growing on the cervix so you can begin treatment as soon as possible, or monitor the condition.
If you are diagnosed with cancer while enrolled in this program, you have access to treatment benefits. Treatment is free for those who have been diagnosed inside and outside of IBCCP as long as you meet the eligibility requirements. Under the 2006 expansion of the program, women whose cancer has been diagnosed outside of a designate IBCCP site can go directly into the free treatment program if all other qualifications are met. Therefore, women unaware of the program do not have to be penalized if they were screened and diagnosed by another provider.
Income Guidelines and Eligibility
In order to qualify for IBCCP services, you must be an Illinois resident, not have insurance coverage, and be between 35 to 64 years old. In certain cases, younger women can also be eligible. Income is also a factor in applying for the Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, which allows women earning up to 250 percent of the poverty line to receive care.
Each year, the federal poverty guideline changes slightly, and therefore so does program eligibility. For an example of how FPL looks in regards to monthly income, view the table below for the 2013-2014 year.
Women’s Health-Line toll free at 1-888-522-1282 (1-800-547-0466 TTY)