The past year or so I have heard key words in the news “Healthcare reform”. I don’t presume to know anything about any of it. I don’t know the politics, incentives, tax dollars, or what companies are lobbying for what. I will tell you what I DO know. I know that many of the women I’ve spoke to on the subject, myself included, are simply afraid of our healthcare system. My experiences is limited, and yet it scared me enough to chase me away from doctors and perhaps seeking the healthcare I really need. Healthcare I DESERVE as an dedicated payer of taxes and health insurance. Many women I speak to have similar experiences, but I can only tell you what I know.

Let me take you back to before I was diagnosed with my “inconceivable” condition. That’s a joke, get it? My husband and I were between steady employment and in transition from moving states after my husband finished school. We decided to do the responsible thing and shop for independent health insurance in the mean time. We applied for SelectHealth and I naively filled out the forms very honestly. I had listed that I had always experienced irregular menstrual cycles. Nothing series (that I knew of at the time) and no treatment needed. They denied us health insurance! When I investigated further, they stated their reason as: Possible infertility and a risk to multiple births as a result of fertility treatments. My husband and I had made no indication that we wanted to try and have children, but I guess they couldn’t take the risk. They didn’t want to pay for the  twins or triplets I could possibly conceive at some later date that is undetermined at this time!? This was the first time I realized I was in for a lifetime of this bu**$**t.

Fast forward to my diagnosis. As a result of a simple blood test, the doctor had told me that my FSH levels were too high for my age and it would result in my ovaries failing to ovulate regularly. What I wanted and needed was an explanation as why this might happen or the cause. I did not want to seek infertility treatments to start a family yet, but I wanted to be healthy and I was sure my current health insurance would agree and get on board. They are looking out for me, aren’t they? They referred me to a fertility specialist who said, “No one knows why this happens. Let’s start you on hormone therapy and see what happens after a year.” What I was beginning to suspect was that doctors were not in the business of finding out why, but simply treating the symptoms with one medication or another. He ordered some more blood tests. I had no reason to deny more tests to be run. I figured more tests were needed to check hormone levels and I my insurance had always covered blood tests in the past. Why not? Right?

It was only when I got the $1000+ bill for a “simple blood test” that I knew I had to gear up for a fight. The insurance company claimed that this blood test was somehow different than the others and coded as something-else-something and they did not cover it. Did the doctor tell me at any point that this might be on my own dime? Did he ask me if I should go ahead with the test? No. I did not have that kind of money lying around and I fought tooth and nail to get the insurance company to pay for it. This experience taught me a few things: I do not like going to doctors and I don’t like fighting. I do not like trusting insurance companies and giving them money from my paycheck every month only to have to fight them when it comes time to pay for my healthcare. I had to get a written letter from my doctor claiming that the test was necessary to my health. In a similar situation: I had a friend who recently had a baby. She received a bill to pay for a nurse that helped in the delivery who happened to be out of the insurance company’s “provider list”. No one asked my friend as she was being prepped in the OR for her cesarean if it was ok for this “out of network” nurse to come in and help and would she accept the charges.

Recently I have been seeing a dermatologist to help treat some of the unfortunate side effects to my hormone problems. I had hoped she had insight and product recommendations to my skin issues. She had me start on creams and gels that I am supposed to take over time and later prescribed a fancy little cream that she calls “the marathon”. She gave me the sample tubes, a prescription discount card and sent me on my way. I found out upon picking it up at the drug store that my insurance doesn’t cover this new little cream and it will cost me $120/hit. Yeah, no. So, here I go. Ready to call my insurance and convince them that I need it.

It is situations like these, and the other stories where a postpartum medical invoice includes a $400 “nursery fee” when the baby spent no time in the hospital nursery but they justify it by saying it was for “when they cleaned off the baby with a towel” after delivery, that make women like us go running for something other than western medicine. I recently went to see a respected Iridologist. She looks at the patterns in your iris to measure weaknesses in your body’s functions. She uses a way to measure energies in the body to find out what are the causes and cures by finding out exactly what the body needs. Whether you agree with this technique or no, I will tell you what I found out. She said that my body has the ability to work perfectly fine. The high FSH levels are only a reaction to my adrenal glands not functioning properly (among other issues in my body that needed to be worked out). She put me on a strict diet and vitamin regime to put the body back in functioning order. She showed me in her medical books where it proves that malfunctioning adrenal glands can cause hormone levels to fluctuate. What I don’t understand: How can she find an answer and source to my issues so easily when my doctors have all shrugged at me and basically said, “That’s just the way it is. No one knows why. Here’s some pills.”

Now, I’ve done all that has been asked of me. I took the hormones. I didn’t take the hormones. I took the vitamins and ate (didn’t eat) the food. The next logical step is to ask my doctor for a referral to an Endocrinologist to look into the adrenal gland issue. Why don’t I do that? I. AM. TERRIFIED. I am scared that I will be gearing up for another fight with insurance companies. That my doctor will try to treat the symptoms and not dig for the cause. I am worried that it will cost me a lot of money for no benefit.  I feel  lost and confused and no one is really on my team. I know a lot of other women who feel the same way and have their own stories to tell. What I don’t know about this healthcare reform could fill this website and more. What I do know, is the real issue is in the healthcare system. We cannot be afraid to use it because we are scared it won’t do any good. Those of us with good jobs who dutifully pay our premiums and deductibles should not be arguing with insurance companies to do their job. Who do I talk to about this? Can I speak with your manager?