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Healthy Balance

Low-Income Women in Virginia: You Might Qualify for Free Cancer Screenings

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Keyri Lopez-Godoy has a mission. Over the next few months, she’s hoping to enroll 200 people in the Every Woman’s Life (EWL) program at UVA Health. This Virginia Department of Health-funded program helps uninsured, low-income people get free breast and cervical cancer screening tests.

Simply put, this program is designed to save lives. You have a much greater chance of surviving breast or cervical cancer when found early using screening tests.

“If someone needs a mammogram or Pap test, then EWL is able to cover the screening costs. And the nice thing about the program, too,” Keyri says, “it helps cover some additional tests. So, if, for example, something is found on the mammogram, and the provider needs more information about what’s going on, EWL covers those additional tests.” 

The program is especially helpful for people whose English may be limited. “EWL offers navigation in a tricky health system world,” adds Keyri. She is the program’s community health worker who’s fluent in both English and Spanish.

Looking for People Who Qualify for Free Cancer Screenings

UVA Health is one of several EWL providers throughout Virginia. This fiscal year, the UVA program has enrolled over 100 people so far, but it has the budget to enroll many more.

“We have funds from the Virginia Department of Health to enroll 300 people this fiscal year (that ends the last day of June). We’re not seeing the number of people that we’d like to see. The funds are there and there’s a lot of potential for growth,” Keyri says.

She devotes time to “looking at data and figuring out how to find people who can benefit from the program.” She encourages employers to share this post with their workers who could benefit.

Who Does the EWL Program Serve?

The EWL program helps people who:

Don’t think you qualify? Keyri encourages you to apply anyway. Applications are available in English and Spanish. Although ‘woman’ is in its name, the program also serves transgender people.

“EWL has so many exceptions,” Keyri says. “Each person brings such a unique case. Even if you think you don’t qualify, still apply. And if the program can’t help you at all, we’ll connect you to other resources at UVA or in the community.”

Need a Mammogram or Pap Test?

Get free breast & cervical cancer screenings through Every Woman's Life

What Free Services Does EWL Provide?

For people between 40 and 64 years old, EWL covers:

For those between ages 18 and 39, EWL does not cover routine cancer screenings. But it will cover tests for people under 40 who have concerning symptoms, or are at a high risk for breast and/or cervical cancer.

EWL doesn’t cover the costs for cancer treatment. But it does connect participants to resources that can help cover those costs.

Keyri says, “If cancer is found, the program connects people to a special Medicaid program, which helps pay for treatment. And if they don’t qualify for Medicaid, we can connect them to UVA financial assistance. Not being able to afford treatment should never keep someone from getting lifesaving care.”

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