The world around us has become a scary (and emotionally exhausting) place to be. And your Facebook feed won’t let you forget it. Trump on the daily, Russia stealing elections, Muslim bans, hate crimes, wiretaps, the slow death of public education.
At times like these, it’s hard work to not to feel like everything is hopeless. I’ve made no bones about the fact that depression, anxiety, and I go way back. So in the interest of my sanity, I don’t watch the news and try not engage in the conversations about how awful and crazy everything is.
Instead, I try to follow the advice of Fred Rogers and look for the helpers. Find the good people doing good things. Which is why today, on National Women’s Day, I want to give a special shout out to one of my favorite helpers by telling you about the time Planned Parenthood helped me.
I don’t mean to brag but for 37 years, I’d been lucky enough to be pretty healthy. Every year I’d visit the Lady Doctor and every year my test results were fantastic.
Until the time they weren’t.
My pap results were problematic. I had to go back for an invasive procedure so they could get a closer look at what was happening up in there. At the time, I was still covered by Big Oil Company health insurance. So while I was terrifying myself by obsessing about the worst case diagnosis, I didn’t think twice about how I’d pay for it. Everything was covered by my insurance.
Fast forward a year, I had retired from Corporate America, and it was time again for the annual lady parts check up. Only now I was working as a barely-employed freelance writer and part-time hostess so I had a health insurance plan from the Marketplace. Some Obamacare, if you will.
And the annual lady check up was completely covered by my plan. Thanks, Obamacare!
But about a week later, I got a phone call from my doctor’s office. Just like the year before, my test results were less than ideal and I was going to need to have another one of those unpleasant procedures.
The news was a bummer two-fold:
Fold one: There was still cause for concern over the health of my inner lady bits, which was scary.
Fold two: My “insurance” was going to cover none of this, which was straight up terrifying.
Here’s the thing about the Affordable Healthcare Act: While I appreciate the effort*, it’s not quite there yet. And by “there”, I mean affordable.
Now before I get started, it’s only fair to point out that the Marketplace offers a variety of different health insurance plan options. I chose one of the cheaper plans with the lowest monthly premium because, well, that’s what I could afford.
For $221 a month in premiums, I get one annual wellness visit (read: a physical) and one visit to the Lady Doctor. After that, I have a $6,000 deductible. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with a high deductible plan, allow me to educate you:
After my two free visits, the insurance plan that I pay over $200 a month for will cover nothing until I spend $6,000 on things like prescriptions, doctor visits outside of those two freebies, any procedures or operations I might need. You know, the kinds of things health insurance used to pay for.
So basically, I will need to spend over $8,400 a year before I really get any insurance out of my insurance plan. I’m not quite sure who finds that affordable, but it ain’t this girl.
Bottom line? Insurance wasn’t going to cover it and I didn’t have the money to pay for it. I tried pushing the procedure off for a few months with the hopes that maybe I’d stumble onto a better insurance plan or maybe trip over a bag of money on my walk to work. But after about five months, a nurse from my doctor’s office called insisting that I come in.
“You need to come have this done. I’m not trying to scare you. It’s not life and death right this minute. But it is important that you have this done soon,” she explained, kindly but firmly.
“I know. But it’s also important that I don’t bankrupt myself spending money I don’t have,” I retorted. “I’m sorry that we live in a country where I have to choose between my financial well being and physical well being, but I guess that’s where we’re at.”
“Let me call you back,” she said right before hanging up on me.
I assumed that she just hung up because was put off by my witty sarcasm. But she called me back a few minutes later.
“I talked with the doctor. You should go to Planned Parenthood. They can do the procedure there and it will only cost you a few hundred dollars. Then they can send us the results and we’ll go from there.”
So one rainy July morning, that’s what I did: I went to Planned Parenthood. I had the procedure I needed done for a fraction of what I would have had to pay out-of-pocket at my doctors office. And I’m happy to report that everything was good in my hood.
Now, let’s for a moment imagine there was no Planned Parenthood.
It would have taken months, possibly a year or more, before I’d be able to find a job with a benefits package good enough to cover those expenses. And for the record, that procedure I couldn’t afford to pay for? It was to see if there were any cancerous or precancerous cells growing inside of me. Now, we all know that early detection is often the key to successfully fighting cancer. But because I couldn’t pay for it, I was going to have to just wait and see and hope.
If not for Planned Parenthood.
Like I said, I don’t watch much news these days and I try to stay away from the Facebook conversations. But when I heard about the attack on Planned Parenthood, I suddenly had something to say.
For the sake of millions of girls and women not too different from me, Planned Parenthood CANNOT get defunded. If that happens, millions of women will have no place to go to get healthcare that they can afford. And ladies, we need to stick together and fight for each other. We deserve better than this government is trying to give us.
I stand with Planned Parenthood. And if you know and love even one woman, you should too. They need our help. Make your donation to Planned Parenthood here.
* I am well aware that what Obama originally drafted and what the Republicans in Congress were willing to pass are two very different things.