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Soak up the sun! What a healthy glow! You look tanned and relaxed! Society tends to value a sun-kissed look, but that look can come with some serious risks. Most skin cancers are a direct result of exposures to UV rays in sunlight and artificial sources.
Fortunately, when found and removed early, skin cancers are almost always curable. Skin cancer screenings can be a big part of early detection. That’s good news, right? But does your health insurance cover them?
Skin cancer screenings are not included in the Affordable Care Act’s preventive care benefits for adults. That means you will need to contact your health insurance company to find out if and how your medical benefits apply to skin cancer screening and dermatologist visits. While you may need to visit a healthcare professional for exams and treatments, there are also some low-cost and no-cost ways to monitor your skin cancer risks in the meantime.
Organizations such as the Skin Cancer Foundation recommend monthly head-to-toe self-examinations, which can help you get to know your skin and detect new or changing lesions.
The process takes only a few minutes once you get the hang of it, and there are a number of online resources to help you learn how. Here are a few to get you started:
Medical professionals can also offer materials and guidance, so be sure to talk with your doctor or dermatologist and ask questions about skin safety and screening at your next visit. Your healthcare provider may also recommend more frequent self-checks.
While this list is by no means exhaustive, the following organizations can help you locate no-cost skin cancer screenings in your area:
If anything unusual is found during a free screening, you may be advised to schedule an appointment for further examination and testing. But what if you can’t afford it or don’t have health insurance? The American Academy of Dermatology suggests finding a free or low-cost clinic (resources are listed on the AAD website) or calling a dermatologist’s office and inquiring about a discounted bill—https://www.aad.org/public/spot-skin-cancer/programs/screenings/medical-care-without-health-insurance.
Talk with your doctor or dermatologist to assess your skin cancer risk and discuss their recommendations for professional screenings. General risk factors for skin cancer include, but are not limited to, a lighter natural skin color, family history of skin cancer, exposure to the sun through work and play, blue or green eyes, and certain types and a large number of moles.
If notice changes to your skin or any of the ABCDEs of Melanoma during a self-exam or in the course of your daily life, make an appointment with your doctor or dermatologist to have it checked out. Before you schedule, contact your health insurance company to verify your benefits and locate in-network providers.
 American Cancer Society. “Does UV Radiation Cause Cancer?” Last reviewed and revised Aug. 12, 2015. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/radiation-exposure/uv-radiation/uv-radiation-does-uv-cause-cancer.html
 Skin Cancer Foundation. “Early Detection and Self Exams.” Accessed June 27, 2017. http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/early-detection
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What are the Risk Factors for Skin Cancer?” Last reviewed and updated April 25, 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/risk_factors.htm