In addition to the medical and emotional issues one must deal with after having breast cancer, some other issues breast cancer survivors must deal with are health insurance and employment discrimination. As much as people want to deny the problem, there is discrimination against people who have had cancer. Hard to believe, since having cancer can really make a person stronger and more focused, but it happens. So this article will discuss some issues and approaches to take to deal with discrimination not only with employment, but with insurance.
It is very important NOT to let your insurance lapse after having cancer. Your current insurance company cannot drop your coverage after having a life threatening illness like cancer, but many insurance companies WILL NOT let someone who has had a life threatening illness start a policy with them or they will cover you, but NOT in the event of a recurrence. Changing insurance coverage through a job change will usually be ok, but you will need to check to make sure. Also, if you quit your job or leave for any reason, it’s usually a good idea to continue your coverage through COBRA until you have a new job or coverage through other means. It can be expensive, but worth it in the event of any health problems. Also, it is harder to get other types of insurance coverage, like life and disability after having breast cancer.
In terms of employment, everyone must make a decision to tell or not tell co-workers about having cancer. It is technically against the law to discriminate against the handicapped. The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) extended this to the private sector. Cancer and other diseases fall under this law. If you have issues at your job due to the effects of your cancer treatment, your employer must make accommodations for you. But the truth is that many employers will find other ways to discriminate against workers who have had cancer, so be on your guard.
It’s a little trickier when you are trying to find a new job. Employers can be shy about hiring people who have had cancer. It’s against the law, but it still happens. You have to decide if you want to be upfront about your illness or just cover it up. On one hand, you might want to work for a company that will be supportive of your situation. On the other hand, you might not want to risk losing the job and choose just not to mention it. In addition, if you need to take time off for appointments and other things, it might not go over well with them if they didn’t know that when they hired you. It’s a very personal decision, one in which you must carefully weigh all your options. If you can find some kind of career counseling center, they may be able to give you some type of advice or guidance.