I would like to share a few facts with you.Fact 1 – 47 million Americans or 16 percent of the population were without health care insurance in 2005.Fact 2 – Nearly 90 million people about one third of the population below the age of 65 spent a portion of either 2006 or 2007 without health care coverage.Fact 3 -Because of the above information the lack of insurance compromises the health of the uninsured because they receive less preventative care, are diagnosed at more advanced disease stages, and once diagnosed tend to receive less therapeutic care and have higher mortality rates than insured individuals.I would now like to share a true life scenario with you :This article is about a young woman who shall remain nameless because she could be anyone without health insurance in the United States. After being informed from a family member that symptoms she had recently began having sounded like a condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) she did extensive research on the condition and decided that she needed to make an appointment to see an OB GYN physician.Knowing that she didn’t have health insurance coverage, she phoned the clinic and spoke with a nurse about an appointment day, costs and having tests run for (PCOS). The appointment was made and the woman was greatly relieved that she would finally have answers to the questions that had been plaguing her.On the day of her appointment because she was self pay, she had to pay in advance. After a couple of hours she was taken from the waiting room to the back where her blood pressure and weight were taken. A pap smear was then performed and afterwards the woman (patient) was instructed to get dressed and wait in the examination room.
The physician was not in the office that day so the midwife examined her. She entered the examination room and gave the patient a prescription for birth control pills and told her that she had (PCOS). The young woman then asked what she should do about the excessive hair growth under her chin and she was told by the midwife to get laser surgery or simply go to the drug store and buy wax to remove it.Needless to say the woman (Patient) was greatly disappointed. How could this diagnosis be given without proper blood tests? Well she was informed that she was diagnosed based on the fact that she met criteria. Yet upon further investigation and a conversation with the nurse who sits at the front window the woman was informed that she could not have blood tests done because she did not have health insurance and that it would (These were her exact words) cost “thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars” to do the blood tests. This nurse actually said that!I have to quote her again ; ” It would cost thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars” to have a HGB A1c, Testosterone, Progesterone, FSH, DHEAS and Prolactin blood draw done.The nurse was later confronted by an advocate for the young woman, who happened to be a nurse. She asked the nurse at the window how she could purposely misinform the young woman with such an untruth. After disappearing for about 20 minutes (in conversation with the midwife no doubt) the nurse finally re-emerged with a lab work up sheet and instructed the young woman to take it to outpatient over at the hospital.It was later discovered that the blood tests were actually no more than about $500.00. PLUS! The lab informed the woman that after she made initial payment the rest would be worked out in a payment plan.I was infuriated after hearing this story. First for the Midwife to just give a diagnosis without any real conclusive evidence. Second, to take away this woman’s (patients) option to have tests done in the first place. But most of all the nurse and the Midwife both offered the poorest quality healthcare imaginable by not being an advocate for the patient and purposely leading her in the wrong direction because she was uninsured. We wonder why so many people don’t get properly diagnosed until well into the disease process? Well incidents like this are the very reason why.This article was written with one purpose in mind. To inform YOU that you are entitled to quality health care. You are entitled to participate in options and decisions that could possible decide the outcome of your life. You have rights.
With that being said I offer this advice when seeking healthcare for any reason. Don’t be intimidated by the nurse at the window or the physician for that matter. My comments are in no way suggesting that all medical personnel behave as these two did, but as evidenced, unfortunately they are out there. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Write them down if you have to. Do research, educate your self as much as possible as the woman in this article did. Finally find out what your options are and don’t be patronized with condescending words just because you’re uninsured. If at all possible talk to the Physician. Last but not least please get a second opinion especially if your red flag goes up.It is my hope and dream that one day each and every American will be provided with good quality health care, but until that day comes……Fight for your rights and your life!REFERENCES:
DeNavas-Walt, C.B. Proctor, and J. Smith. Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2006. U.S. Census Bureau., August 2007. http://www.census.gov/prod/2007pubs/p60-233.pdfThe Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. The Uninsured: A Primer, Key Facts About Americans without Health Insurance. October 2006. http://www.kff.org/uninsured/