In my last post, I talked about coming to terms with a procedure that would effectively render me infertile. I had made my peace with the loss of a choice to have children, and was actually looking forward to having minor surgery that would improve my quality of life. I made the appointment to have the pre-op conversation with my doctor and get the ball rolling, hoping to have this taken care of before Thanksgiving.
About four hours before my scheduled appointment, I received a call from my doctor’s office saying that my insurance wasn’t going to cover the procedure. That was frustrating enough. Then the office manager outlined the reason why … and I wanted to break something. My HMO is with a medical group run by a Catholic hospital – and because this is a sterilization procedure, they won’t cover it. “Fine,” I said. “I was hoping to change to a different medical group, anyhow. What about my other HMO option with Presence?” Turns out they’re Catholic, too.
I have been pretty lucky in my life not to have to deal too closely with the intersection of conservative social views and healthcare. As a woman, it has always been on the periphery of my awareness – but until recently, I have never had to do much with gynecology beyond my annual physical exams. So ramming headfirst into a restriction based solely on the belief that “women should make every effort to have babies” is incredibly jarring.
I don’t want this post to imply or turn into Catholic-bashing. There are some very dear people in my life that are Catholic, and are likely reading this right now. This isn’t about Catholicism as a whole. But I do believe that religious views, no matter the denomination or faith, have no place in the healthcare system – particularly when it comes to insurance coverage. I talked before about looking into patient advocacy as a career or at least a volunteer option. I’m feeling that pull again after this experience.
I’m planning to fight this decision. My doctor’s office should be calling me with more alternatives later today, and word on the street is that if it’s medically necessary (and it is) then the doctor should be able to override the restriction and get the insurance company to cover the procedure. So it’s not a done deal yet. But it made for some feelings of hopelessness and anger. A night of pizza, bad TV, and video games helped, and I’m in a better space today.
Just for fun, I will leave you with this brief snippet of an online conversation with my good friend, Jason, when I was filling him in on my frustrations. (Edited and posted with his permission.)
Me: According to the insurance guys my boss met with, if my doctor can convince the insurance company that my procedure is medically necessary, they have to grant it. So I am going to see about fighting this thing when I talk to them.
Jason: Good. Because “God wants you to have babies,” is not an acceptable response from an insurance company.
Me: I feel like I am in the Middle Ages or something.
Jason: Maybe you can use a course of leeches.
Me: That will remove the demon in my lungs for sure.
Jason: Good idea!
Jason: Oh, wait… You’re a witch.
Jason: So it’s probably best to go ahead and set you on fire.
Jason: Now, there IS a copay for that procedure…
Jason: But it’s cut in half if you use the generic equivalent!
Me: What’s the generic equivalent of “burning at the stake”?
Jason: I’m glad you asked.
Jason: The generic equivalent is actually just like burning at the stake, only you have to hold very still all on your own. So it would be better to refer to it as “burning” rather than “burning at the stake”.
Jason: Of course, you could bring your own stake, if you like.
Jason: We’re committed to providing you with an excellent execution experience.
Me: What if I spelled “stake” like “steak”, and just burned that, instead?
Jason: That would be fine, too.
Jason: But to be clear, we’re still setting you on fire.