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Can’t Afford Breast or Cervical Cancer Screenings? The Free Sage Program Is Here to Help

Grand Itasca Clinic & Hospital is hosting a free Sage event on June 23rd.
  • June 06, 2022
  • By Grand Itasca

In 2018, more than 42,000 women in the United States died from breast cancer according to the CDC. Many of these deaths could have been prevented if caught earlier. Like all cancers, spotting it early is the best way to combat it. In the case of breast cancer, the American College of Radiology recommends that women 40 and older have a mammogram every year. 

“We know that having health insurance is linked with improved access and quality of cancer care,” says Robin Yabroff, PhD, the senior scientific director of the American Cancer Society health services research team.

But what do you do if your insurance won’t cover preventative measures like a mammogram?

No matter your situation in life, you should have access to cancer screenings. Thanks to the Sage program, you can. Since 1991, this Minnesota program has been ensuring low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women have access to vital cancer screenings. These screenings are conducted at participating clinics, including Grand Itasca, free of charge for qualifying patients. If you are a woman or you know a woman who is low-income, uninsured, or underinsured, Sage could be a great resource. 

Sage Beginnings

According to the Minnesota Department of Health:

“Since 1991, the Sage provider network has grown to over 450 clinic sites across Minnesota, providing breast and cervical cancer screening to more than 150,000 women. These services are part of the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP), which has served more than four million women since it began. Sage also receives funds from the State of Minnesota to support screening services.”


Who Qualifies for Sage?

There are a few factors to qualify for Sage:

  • You must be a woman
  • For breast exams, you must be 40 or older
  • For cervical exams, you must be between 21 to 64
  • You must fall into one of these categories:
    • Do not have insurance
    • Have insurance that does not cover screening or has a deductible or co-pay
    • Have an income within program guidelines (see below)

Income Eligibility

 Household Size  Monthly Income  Yearly Income
1 $2,831 $33,975
2 $3,815 $45,775
3 $4,798 $57,575
4 $5,781 $69,375
5 $6,765 $81,175
6 $7,748 $92,975
Add for each additional $984 $11,800

If you’re still not sure if you qualify or have any questions, email [email protected] anytime or call 1-888-643-2584 weekdays between 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Sage Stories

Grand Rapid’s childcare owner Rita Craiglow is an avid proponent for Sage. For 20 years, she has used Sage to get her annual screening for breast and cervical cancer. 

“I own my own childcare business and have self-pay insurance so cancer screenings aren’t free,” explains Craiglow. “Because it costs money, I just didn’t go and get them.” 

When Sage started, Craiglow’s physician encouraged her to participate. 

“It’s an awesome program,” states Craiglow. “I recommend every woman check it out to see if they qualify.” 

Thankfully, so far there have been no breast or cervical cancer cell spottings for Craiglow but knowing she can get free cancer screenings removes a large stress from her shoulders. 

“I’ve already had kidney cancer so cancer is always in the back of my mind,” she explains. “These screenings give me so much peace of mind.” 

Free Sage Event at Grand Itasca

On June 23, the Imaging Department and clinic at Grand Itasca is hosting a Sage event. The main goal is to spread awareness of the Sage program and get the word out into the community about MDH-covered services. 

Each appointment will look like this:

  • You check into the clinic and fill out the Sage paperwork
  • You meet with Dr. Kaeley Whiting-Allen, and she will conduct a breast exam and pap smear
  • You will receive a mammogram 

To schedule your free Sage appointment as part of Grand Itasca’s June 23rd event, call 218-999-1602.


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