I hate calling the doctor. I hate going to the doctor. I hate making the appointment, the time spent on hold, the time spent in the waiting room, the verification of my health insurance. I hate the whole thing, which is why I don’t go nearly as often as I should. I made my appointment for my annual exam yesterday, and it has been nearly two years since I have been. Before that, it was five. And before that, I pretty much only went when I either suspected I was pregnant, was pregnant or wanted to ensure that I didn’t become pregnant.
And it’s silly, really, because I have no trouble at the doctor. Hardly ever. I am exceptionally healthy, despite still being overweight. I exercise often. I eat healthy food. I have always had very few problems gynecologically. I don’t smoke. I do drink, but rumor has it a glass of wine a day isn’t a bad thing. And I am exceedingly fortunate to have health insurance.
The insurance card I carry when I go to these multi hour long, mind numbing doctor visits is like the golden ticket. If I want to enter those hallowed halls, I better have that little rectangle of plastic to gain admittance. We had a major change to our policy two years ago, and it was amazing how profound the effect was. Our primary care doctor would no longer accept us. We had to pay out of pocket if we wanted to still use their services. Fortunately the kids’ doctor still accepted the insurance.
We were given what is known as a high deductible plan. Basically, we pay out of pocket for everything except for preventative care until we hit our deductible. Kid running a fever? $80 if I want a doctor to tell me why. My daughter’s ADHD meds? $144 a month until we hit that deductible. MRI? There’s a thousand bucks down the drain. Last year we hit our deductible very quickly because my husband had to have an outpatient procedure done at a hospital. Several thousand dollars had to be paid, all at once.
This year, things are a little better. We’ve had time to adjust and save up money in our Health Savings Account, so now we have funds built up in there in case something happens again. The HSA helps us plan out and budget for those pricey meds or the x rays the kids might need after that spill at summer camp. And we are very, very fortunate that we are so far able to meet these costs, and that the preventative stuff is covered entirely.
I mention this because as flawed as our insurance feels like on the consumer end, it’s better than nothing. My sister’s family will be losing their health insurance next month and will be forced to buy a private policy. A policy that likely will make ours look like a Cadillac to their Hyundai. A policy that will likely be very hard to find due to her daughter’s physical and mental health issues, which will become known as the dreaded PreExisting Condition. My husband’s cousin has a PreExisting condition and has found herself virtually insurable under any private policy. What they’ll do when she needs to be hospitalized or needs an MRI or any of the inevitabilities that come with her condition (she has Multiple Sclerosis), I have no idea. Go bankrupt, I suppose.
It just seems astounding to me that in our country we can let this happen. Let people starve or lose their homes rather than protect their health. I don’t know if the current law being debated by the Supreme Court now is the answer, either. It seems like a cobbled mess put together with the compromise of political interests in mind, rather than a true system that universally offers care. Everyone must know someone, or have had experience themselves with how flawed this system is.
So I will go to my doctor visit in a few weeks. I will complain about the wait, the tedium and the seemingly uselessness of having another clean bill of health granted to me. But this time, I will stop myself before I get too far into it, and remind myself how truly lucky I am to have inconvenience be the only negative outcome of that visit.