October 30, 2020 – Surrounded by her husband and daughter, Erika Aguero was crying because she had just found out the news no patient ever wants to hear. When she heard she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, she worried that she was going to die. Her immediate concern was not the lifesaving chemotherapy treatment itself but how she was going to be able to afford it. But she soon would learn that the 340B drug pricing program was going to help ensure she received the care she needed.
Erika works as a nanny and was uninsured. She called many places to schedule treatment and found that because of her insurance status they were unable to provide her affordable care. Then she heard about Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago.
Mount Sinai uses 340B savings to provide patients who are uninsured or living with low incomes the financial aid they need to afford their health care. For Erika, this was another emotional moment.
“When I saw what I had to pay, I felt happy because it was an amount I could afford,” she said. “I felt like I had a new opportunity to carry on and keep fighting.”
Erika is the newest patient story we are sharing in our Faces of 340B video profile series, and she is the first patient to share her story with us in Spanish. Our research concludes 340B hospitals are nearly twice as likely to provide oncology treatments to Hispanic patients, so these stories are important ones to hear when considering how patients benefit from the program.
Support Every Step of the Way
The chemotherapy regimen Erika faced was challenging. She had to receive eight intravenous chemotherapy cycles at Mount Sinai, followed by seven cycles of at-home chemotherapy for 14 days each.
With the help of 340B savings, Mount Sinai was there to guide Erika every step of the way through her treatment. Her 340B-supported discount card meant that she didn’t have to pay a single cent for the at-home chemotherapy medications she took, and she paid only $20 for each chemotherapy cycle at Mount Sinai. Because she and her family felt comfortable they could afford her treatment, she could focus full time on getting better.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the United States, and the critical care Erika received at Mount Sinai is the type of care 340B hospitals are delivering throughout the country. 340B hospitals not only use their savings to provide patients in need with affordable treatment, they also use the savings to expand their prevention and treatment services. For example, some hospitals report using 340B savings to provide mammograms and patient education programs to make more people aware of what puts a person more at risk for the disease. Nearly 80% of 340B DSH hospitals report that cuts to the program would negatively affect their ability to provide care for patients with cancer.
Today, Erika reports she “feels amazing” and is in good health. “I am grateful to my family, God, and Mount Sinai,” she said.
Check out Erika’s profile at our Faces of 340B website.