American Cancer Society Launches Campaign To Spotlight Challenges To US Health Care System

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The American Cancer Society, the nation's largest voluntary health organization, today announced a major nationwide initiative to call attention to the urgent need for quality, affordable health care for all Americans. As part of the initiative, which is an unprecedented effort in the 94-year history of the organization, the Society will devote significant resources toward creating an aggressive public awareness campaign that highlights the barriers that average Americans, including the 47 million who do not have health insurance and the countless others who have inadequate insurance, confront when facing cancer.

"The American Cancer Society believes that, after tobacco use, lack of access to quality health care in the United States could be the biggest barrier to continued progress in the fight against cancer," said Richard C. Wender, M.D., national volunteer president of the Society. "Cancer is the number one personal health concern of Americans. Reducing suffering and death from cancer may only truly be possible if all Americans are able to visit their doctor for regular check ups, early detection screening tests and prompt, quality cancer treatment if and when they need it."

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Through the use of an emotional advertising campaign, which includes nationwide television, print and online components, the Society tells the stories of real people who faced cancer diagnoses and typify the all-too-real stories of millions of others. One ad features "Kathy" who had no insurance when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Another ad tells the story of "Raina" who had insurance when she faced thyroid cancer but still faced financial debt that resulted in her medical bills being turned over to collection agencies.

"People expect that their insurance will be sufficient should they be faced with a major illness," Wender said. "Unfortunately, millions of Americans think they are covered, but find out too late that their insurance is inadequate, and as a consequence they often face substantial financial burdens, including being denied the care they need. No one should have to choose between taking care of their health and paying their bills."

Recent Society scientific research published in the peer-reviewed journal CANCER has shown that people who are uninsured, and people with certain types of public health insurance, are more likely to be diagnosed with more advanced cancer compared to those with private insurance, and, as a result, are at greater risk of death. These patients face much more difficult and far more expensive medical treatments, as well as a diminished quality of life

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