Thursday, April 04, 2013


Reader-be-warned: what follows is a rant.

Do you ever stop to consider that you are part of a statistic? In most cases such inclusion is benign, like the fact that I'm part of the percentage of white women who have an advanced degree, or part of the percentage of women who are ordained. Yada yada.

It's not so benign when the facts or circumstances of your life dump you into other categories. Unemployed, for instance. Ouch. And now, thanks to congress, I fall into a new category: a person with reduced health benefits. As a military dependent my health insurance is the result of your tax dollars at work. (Mine, too, by the way, lest someone think I'm sitting idle here living low on the hog.) Let me say right up front that I thank you for that benevolence.

Back to statistics and the consequences of congress. Not long ago I received a letter from my insurance carrier informing me that my existing plan was being discontinued. Now, instead of co-pays, I will be paying a percentage of my bill. Ouch again. Because of this I almost cancelled a scheduled appointment with my doctor last week. I had to weigh the cost, literally and figuratively, of showing up in order to get a couple of prescriptions renewed. I could go without the prescriptions, but let's just say that one of them keeps my cholesterol level in good shape, and the other manages pain level for a certain affliction that really sucks, while simultaneously helping me function like a normal person, whatever that means. I opted to shoulder the financial cost of the visit. I'm actually in pretty good health, a few issues notwithstanding, but particularly as I age I'm a continuing believer in the benefits of preventive care.

Then yesterday I get a call from the doctor's office telling me that my insurance carrier is requiring a pre-certification on one of my prescriptions. Apparently they don't want to cover this medication any longer and are requiring justification to remain on it. But here's the kicker. I am required to meet with my doctor to answer some health questions in order for this to be accomplished. I'm told that this cannot be done over the phone, despite every well-articulated argument I assert through the phone at the poor office assistant who makes her living making calls to share this kind of news. (I'm really sorry, Jennifer. I hope you've developed a thick skin and don't take any of our outrage personally.) The alternative? "I" can decide to use a different medication that is covered. Huh? I'm not in any position to evaluate the benefits of a medication for my particular physiological quirks. So here is my choice: incur additional financial burden because the insurance company isn't happy with my doctor's comfort level a week ago with prescribing a certain medication or wing it with my health.

Here's what I hate (and there are very few things that I hate). I've actually been feeling pretty upbeat this week. In spite of having to cancel a trip I was looking forward to, in spite of having to contort my  life to appease the requirements of the state in certain matters, in spite of a handful of other thorns in my side, I've been exulting in the Light that beams from a certain recently-celebrated resurrection. A phone call later my voice is quivering and tears are running down my cheeks because the carefully constructed dam that helps keep me intact through the refining fire gets punctured and I suddenly feel deflated.

I have been angry with congress for ages because of the cold-hearted disregard that is demonstrated toward those who need help. Now my anger is personal. Now the helplessness with which I empathized looks back at me in the mirror. Now the narrow road of care upon which I've been walking is narrower and more precarious. I feel like the mythical Haggis who clomps up the mountainside on uneven legs only to topple to the bottom when it reaches the top. This is such an exhausting kind of life.

Mind you, I will recover before the day is over, but it's not just picking up where I left off. It's like getting knocked off your feet while carrying a carefully ordered stack of papers. Everything gets scattered and now needs to be collected again. And put back in order. It makes a person crazy.

If you're still reading, thanks for listening. You are now free to unbuckle your seat belt and roam about the cabin.


The Bug said...

This is one of the biggest fears I have - our health care system is so flawed that it wouldn't take much for us to be destitute because of medical issues.

I'm so sorry you're having to go through this. Feel free to rail away!

Terri said...

Outrageous.Seriously, rant away!

Jayne said...

I see this all the time. We have to actually write letters stating WHY this particular medication is THE ONE the patient really needs at this time, and then HOPE that it will be approved. Sigh. And people have the audacity to say, "Our healthcare system is fine! Obamacare will ruin everything?" Really? Then, they must not WORK in our system and see the stupid stuff like you describe in your rant. I feel your pain, and am here with virtual hugs as you take a deep breath and jump through the hoops.


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