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Breast cancer in men: Does Medicaid discriminate?
The disease affects thousands of men each year, but getting the government to help with their medical bills can be a real challenge
 
Roughly 2,000 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year -- but Medicaid won't cover them.
Roughly 2,000 men are diagnosed with breast cancer every year -- but Medicaid won't cover them.
Beathan/Corbis

Though breast cancer primarily affects women (an estimated 230,000 per year in the U.S.), approximately 2,000 men are also diagnosed with the potentially deadly disease each year. Raymond Johnson, 26, of South Carolina is one of them. Last month, when he tried to get coverage from a Medicaid cancer treatment program, he was told that he didn't meet the eligibility requirement because he isn't a woman. Johnson says this is unfair, and is calling for the federal policy to be changed. "Cancer doesn't discriminate, so this program shouldn't discriminate," says Johnson. Is he right?

Yes. Medicaid clearly discriminates: The situation is "really wrong," says Jeff Stensland of South Carolina's Department of Health and Human Services, as quoted by ABCNews.com. That's why we're pushing the federal government to change their position and extend the program to cover men with breast cancer. But as long as Medicaid applies an "overly rigid interpretation" of the rules, men like Johnson will continue to suffer without adequate health care.
"Man with breast cancer denied Medicaid coverage because he's not a woman"

Regulations that limit screenings are to blame, too: Men who are at high risk of breast cancer (due to genetics or family history) should get properly screened, says Chris Spags at Guyism, but often, federal rules stand in the way. Since so few men suffer from breast cancer, Medicaid doesn't even cover screenings. No wonder Johnson is outraged.
"26-year-old denied treatment for breast cancer due to being male"

The root problem is America's patchwork medical coverage: "The real solution to this, of course, would be affordable universal health care," says Anna North at Jezebel. Our health care system leaves all sorts of people out in the cold — not just male breast cancer patients, but people with other types of cancer, too. The government "needs to figure out a way to fill the gaps in its coverage so that all patients in need have equal access to treatment."
"Man with breast cancer denied Medicaid coverage because he's not female"

 

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