Our F*cked Up Politics of Healthcare

You want to hear something sad? Just the other day I read that starting August first, women will be guaranteed an annual wellness doctor visit without a copay. Last week at my post-baby doctor visit, my doctor wanted to schedule me for wellness visit in six months, just to make sure everything was fine, and I intentionally put her off, wary of the copay (especially with the upcoming prospect of having to pay for daycare for two children). So when I read about the new requirement, my immediate thought was “good, I can schedule that doctor visit after all!” My next thought? “I better schedule it for January, because if Romney gets elected that requirement might soon disappear.”

And my next thought was, what the f*ck kind of country do we live in that this is my mental process??? But this isn’t the first time. Let me share some other examples.

I am going to have an IUD implanted for birth control purposes now that my baby has been born. Well, our insurance doesn’t cover IUDs unless they’re for medical purposes rather than contraceptive purposes (I know, right?). However, being low income (graduate students and all that), state medicaid will pay for me to get an IUD, so long as it’s within two months of the baby’s birth. Now starting January first, all insurance plans will be required to cover contraception, and without copays, including IUDs.

So with all this in mind, I had to decide whether to get the Mirena IUD or the Paragard IUD. One major difference is that the Mirena lasts five years and the Paragard lasts ten years. I was asking my doctor about which I should get, and I said “well, I don’t know if my insurance will cover getting a new IUD in five years – oh wait, the new requirement will make it so they have to – except, what if Romney is re-elected and they repeal that requirement?” I asked my doctor what she thought about this, and she said “at the moment, I wouldn’t count on anything.”

It’s just wrong that current politics, rather than simply medical pros and cons and my doctor’s recommendations, has to play a role in my decision of which IUD I should get.

You want another one?

When I started blogging at FreeThought Blogs, and then at Patheos, one perk over my previous Blogger blogging is that I now get paid. When making this switch, I had to consider the possibility that we might lose our children’s health insurance. See, because we’re low income (graduate students and all that!), our children are on state medicaid. We could not afford their health insurance otherwise – adding them to the health insurance plan we have through the university would cost $4000 each. But we only qualify for state insurance if we earn less than a certain threshold. If we pass that threshold, even by a few hundred dollars, we lose the state medicaid and suddenly have to pay an extra $8000 if we want our children to have health insurance. I ran the numbers and we’re not anywhere near the threshold, so we’re fine. But how wrong is it that I had to think about that? If we had universal health coverage, we wouldn’t have to worry about the possibility that increasing our income by a couple hundred dollars could increase our expenses by eight thousand dollars.

But wait, there’s more!

When we first talked about having a second child, we took all the expenses into account, including things like daycare and health insurance. We figured out that we could pay for daycare, but not for health insurance. But, with the state medicaid program for the kids, we wouldn’t have to worry about paying for health insurance. We ran the numbers multiple times, especially given how expensive daycare is (seriously, look it up sometime!), and decided we could afford it. But now I hear house Republicans are considering cutting funding to the medicaid program that covers my kids. This wasn’t something we considered when we looked at having our second child, but it’s too late now, so I guess all we can do is keep our fingers crossed and hope the Republicans’ current headlock on American social policy comes to an end sooner rather than later.

So. How have the current debates over healthcare brought politics into your doctor’s office lately? What stories do you have?

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