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Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein today urged all women to have regular mammograms once they reach 50, regardless of whether or not they have health insurance, and urged women to take advantage of the county’s subsidized screening program for the uninsured.

“Insurance status should never dictate the evidence-based, primary prevention procedures an individual receives, and insurance status also does not mean that some people are more entitled to these potentially live-saving procedures than others,” Dr. Burstein said in a news release.

The commissioner’s comments came on the heels of a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey that showed disparities among the percentages of insured and uninsured women between 50 and 64 years old who reported having regular mammograms. According to the 2010 survey, 80 percent of privately insured women but only 39 percent of uninsured women reported having had mammograms within the past two years.

Burstein said that, locally, the Erie County Cancer Services Program is available to assist all women get access to breast cancer screenings and live-saving treatments, regardless of their insurance status. In 2012, the program provided mammograms for 545 uninsured or underinsured women under the age of 50, and 869 uninsured or underinsured women 50 years and older. The program offers free mammograms to women who qualify, using subsidies provided by the state Health Department and the CDC.

For more information on eligibility and enrollment in the Cancer Services Program, call 858-7376.