The last ten days have been…different around these parts.
I’ve gone ten rounds with the health insurance and the employer over audiologist coverage for one of my children. They won’t cover an audiologist unless the individual has a certified hearing deficiency, but the only way you can get a certification for a hearing deficiency is…if you see an audiologist.
I try to be an optimistic person and thought that if perhaps I tried to present my query with logic or reason (hearing is kind of important for language development in children) then I might at the very least get an explanation of some kind to satisfy the “why.” All I got was a “I can see how that doesn’t make sense to you,” and reason number 1,548,699 for why the rest of the world thinks the way we Americans handle health care is crazy.
Is it necessary? This more than anything is the question I least know the answer to. What do you do when the doctor thinks a referral to a specialist is warranted? What do you do when the doctor orders a particular test? How can I, non-medical school individual that I am, determine the answer to that question? The main benefit that proponents of High Deductible Health Plans (or perhaps more accurately, all tea soaked conservatives everywhere) crow at the top of their lungs is that if the consumer is responsible to pay for everything (or just about everything) then somehow they’ll magically become experts and become capable of acting as their own second opinion and all of our problems will be solved by the unseen, divine hand of the all-knowing and holy market.
You want to know what happens in these situations? Delayed or skipped care, even if someone needs it. I get that because among the worst that can happen, aside from pervasive cancer or death, is that I could conceivably spend my grocery (or gas or electric or rent or mortgage) money on a test that some other holier-than-thou-I-don’t-ever-have-to-worry-about-my-next-meal-judge-y-judgerson will point their fingers at and say is unnecessary and responsible for all that is wrong with our country.
In my relatively sheltered but not without uncertainty middle class life this sort of stress and pressure is bad enough, but if I were in a different income bracket and fed my kids those same Uncrustables for lunch in order to let off a bit of the pressure in my life, folks would be calling out the fiduciary inquisition. Take myself out to the movies to try to forget, for the briefest of moments, the mountains of stress waiting for me while in need of government assistance of any kind? Suddenly they go all apoplectic and foam at the mouth about freebies and freeloaders and some other ridiculousness. For the record, this sort of freak-out is closely related to the “cadillac health insurance” and “bankrupting the government” tics common in my state.
The coolest thing? We got to see a dromedary hump.
The worst thing? That feeling in the pit of your stomach when you don’t really know the answer and you want to be responsible. How much additional testing is necessary? I’m no slouch when it comes to reading comprehension and I’ve read a few journal articles over the years so I’m Google Scholar game, but what about when the way forward isn’t clear? Then what? Perhaps more succinctly, is this not what we send folks to college and graduate school for?
Science education – Seriously, people, if we’re going to demand that your average American second-guess their doctor and function as their very own in-house specialist, then we have got to stop
fucking messing around with science education in our public schools. Could the Christians, just this once, please stop treating science curriculum as the front lines in some ill-advised religious culture war?
Best new idea for a life skills class in high school? Reading medical journal articles. You know what else we’re going to need to provide? Wide open access to full text journal articles for everyone.
Compounding factor? I’m not just making these sorts of decisions for myself – I’m making them for my children which means I have a high(er) probability of messing them up for the rest of their life.
No pressure or anything.