Brenda Christiansen

Murray, Utah

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Brenda Christiansen, age 52, was diagnosed with breast cancer about a year ago. When she first noticed a worrisome lump, she was in the three-month waiting period for the health insurance offered through the nursing job she had recently taken. Within days of qualifying for this coverage, she was laid off. Uninsured and facing this diagnosis, Brenda was eligible to enroll in Utah Medicaid’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Program. This Medicaid program has covered nearly all of Brenda’s cancer care, including a hospital stay and mastectomy, chemotherapy, prescription medicines, expensive imaging and lab services, and specialist care. Brenda pays a small amount for her prescriptions, but with her very low income, and costs for her cancer care totaling close to $100,000, she would be devastated by medical debt if she did not have Medicaid benefits.

Brenda was eligible for Medicaid because of the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act of 2000. This law gave states the option to provide Medicaid coverage to women who were screened through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) and found to have breast or cervical cancer, including pre-cancerous conditions. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have adopted this Medicaid option. In addition, 22 states have elected the “presumptive eligibility” option, which allows states to enroll women in Medicaid for a limited time period while their full Medicaid applications are filed and processed, affording them immediate access to treatment.

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For more information on Utah’s Medicaid program and other data on health coverage, access and expenditures, please visit Utah’s page at

It was just the thought that I did not have to worry about paying the medical bills. That would have been such a huge worry on my mind.

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