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Raymond Johnson was doubly humiliated when he received his diagnosis of breast cancer. Not only was he one of the very few men who develop breast cancer each year (an estimated 1% of all breast cancer cases), but he was also denied health insurance coverage since men are not covered for breast cancer treatment according to Medicaid rules. Johnson is only 26 years old and has no other health insurance.

Although breast cancer in men may be rare, doctors maintain that the effects are the same as they are for women. Unlike women who find lumps while conducting their monthly breast exams, Johnson found his lump by accident and didn’t think much of it until he was rushed to the emergency room with excruciating pain. At first, doctors didn’t believe his story about the lump in his chest and thought that it had to do with his heart. However, after further urging, doctors sent Johnson to have a biopsy of the mass. Within a few days, Johnson was notified that he had breast cancer.

Johnson gets paid $9 an hour and barely makes ends meet as it is. He has never had any health issues before and was shocked to hear his diagnosis. He was advised to apply for a special supplementary program for those with breast cancer who earn an income 200% below the poverty line through Medicaid. Unfortunately, the program is for women only–a sad fact that Johnson learned after his application was denied. Though healthcare reform may eventually help childless men and women not usually covered under the stipulations of Medicaid, Johnson is on his own for now.

Nevertheless, Johnson is receiving chemotherapy treatments and will eventually have a surgery to remove the lump. His bills already total over $4,000. Susan Appelbaum, a counselor at the Charleston Cancer Center who has helped Johnson through the treatment process, has called for donations to help Johnson with his growing medical bills. While she says that the Center will be able to help Johnson a little with his treatments that he receives at the not-for-profit Roper Saint Francis Hospital, the surgery cost will be astronomical. On top of his bills, Johnson can no longer work because of the debilitating effects of the chemotherapy. Appelbaum says that the Charleston Cancer Center is doing everything they can to help Johnson and will take whatever he can pay, even if it’s just $5 a month. In the meantime, Johnson continues to apply for Medicaid and tries to work with caseworkers to resolve his situation.


  1. Gravatar for Floretta

    Csncer is cancer; why men were exempted for coverage for this is beyond me because, while rare, it is not unheard of. CMS or HHS need to revise the language to "Patient" or "Person" rather than "Women" in short order. Is there an exemption or appeal process that can be used while this is under study? Are there any physicians and/or hospitals willing to step up and treat this young man (e.g. under compassionate care)? Our local hospital has incurred millions in uncompensated charity care - surely somebody in South Carolina could do the same. Couldn't the pharmaceutical companies do the same?

  2. Gravatar for mageen

    This is just so unjust! Yes, the legislative language should be changed immediately. This is a reverse whiplash of sexism. Where is his Senator and Congressperson on this issue? Its great stuff for any politician considering re-election. Frankly, this is exactly where the rewrite of the legislative language would have to start.

  3. Gravatar for Edwina Lewicki

    I do not have much, but I will send him $50 in care of Susan Applebaun at the Carleston Cancer Center 2910 Tricom Street

    Charleston, SC 29406

    My harsh opinion of this travesty will be of no help to him.

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