Coffee & conversation at the Rose. SLC, May 2012.
A few things happened this week that annoyed me. On Monday I took Alice to the pediatrician for her six month check-up. No big deal. We'd done check-ups before. When we arrived and checked in, the receptionist said Okay. That'll be $25. I handed her my credit card and asked if we had to pay every time we came for an appointment and she said Yep. Your insurance doesn't cover well-baby visits.
Later in the day, we went to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription for Alice. While there, I decided to get a flu shot. I handed the pharmacist my insurance card and he told me our insurance doesn't cover flu shots and That'll be $32, please.
Both things that Alice and I did that day were considered preventative care. Alice gets a well-baby check-up to receive vaccinations and make sure she is growing properly and that my questions about caring for her are answered. I got a flu shot so that I not only protect myself from getting sick but to ensure I don't pass along the flu to Alice or to my husband or to anyone else, for that matter. And our insurance is sticking us with the bill.
Here's the thing. We can afford these well-baby visits and flu shots but many people in this country cannot. What if Lee and I couldn't afford the $25 dollar co-pay for every single one of Alice's well-baby visits (we're close to $200 already)? What if I had to chose between buying groceries and getting a flu shot?
Having been a nurse in a busy emergency room I saw first hand what happens when people don't receive preventative care and end up in worse health because of it. High blood pressure. Heart disease. Diabetes. Cancer. All of those things can be diagnosed, treated, controlled and oftentimes prevented altogether if care is taken before they lead to more serious and life-threatening health problems. But, if you are a family who is struggling to make ends meet and a visit to the doctor for your healthy kid takes more money out of your already thin pockets, what do you think is going to happen?
The most frustrating part of all of this, though, is not that our insurance company won't cover these preventative health care measures. What is most frustrating is that lack of preventative health measures (and lack of health insurance, in general) are what is causing health care costs in this country to skyrocket. The sole purpose of preventative care is just that.... TO PREVENT! Its purpose is to find and diagnose health problems BEFORE they become more serious and BEFORE they become more expensive.
It is not rocket science. But it surely is political.
What are your thoughts on health care in the U.S.? Being married to a guy who wasn't born in this country has given me some insight on this topic. And it saddens me that access to adequate health care is treated like a privilege here. Regardless of what political party you belong (or don't belong) to, you have to agree that something needs to change with the way we receive health care in this country. As a nurse who has experienced this broken system firsthand, trust me on this one.