Posts Tagged ‘health’
Health insurers make money, in much the same way bookies do. It is an odds-makers’ game requiring more players than pay-outs to sustain it. Those who run the game, bet on the odds of there being more healthy, than sick. The thought of insurers profiting offends many, but insurers have to make money to be solvent.
Forget the 1%…in America, the 99% live more affluent lives than most of the world. Despite our prosperity, we are frightened or frustrated by the cost of medical care. American healthcare is costly, but the notion that costs have spiraled out of control is largely the result of how removed we’ve become from actual real costs.
A hundred years ago, healthcare was costly. Then, it was because the nation was poor. Now it is because our medical care is outstanding. In the era when doctors made house calls, they would often be paid in whatever currency their patients had, whether it be a few dollars, or a basket of eggs, but because we can’t always anticipate our medical expenses, the cost of healthcare is one item that exists outside our household budgets.
Paying the doctor in eggs was harder when the average hourly wage a little more than a quarter, but even in our era of unprecedented prosperity, healthcare costs can be burdensome. We carry phones that cost hundreds, have household electronics that cost thousands, and pay more for a night of entertainment than we are willing to pay for an office visit. Grudgingly, we cough up fees for the one thing more valuable than any other–our health.
Until we face an illness or injury, most of us don’t even have a realistic idea of medical costs. Upon seeing a bill for a twenty-minute visit with a doctor, we may wrongly assume the doctor is over-paid, but to determine his costs, we would have to factor in all the others things we are indirectly paying for like years of expensive training, operating costs like rent, lights, and equipment, or high premiums for malpractice insurance. Add to those the expense of the support staff required in a small medical office to schedule appointments, assist physicians, process claims, handle the record-keeping, or do the accounting.
We’ve come a long way from the time when a doctor’s treatments were limited to what would fit in a satchel, but to understand today’s costs, it’s helpful to understand the evolution of American healthcare. Only a century ago, the concept of health insurance was new. During WWII, employers were under wage and price controls. To attract the best employees, companies began to offer health benefits in lieu of higher wages. Those early plans paid most of a patient’s medical bills, but patients shared some portion, making it necessary even for those with insurance to be conservative about seeking medical care. Traditional insurance gave consumers an awareness of “real” costs.
In the ‘60s and ‘70s, government intervention again changed healthcare, first with the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, later when President Nixon enacted legislation to popularize Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) The first HMOs followed the Kaiser Permanente model, which had reduced costs by limiting and standardizing care. The upside of the HMO’s was coverage of preventative services, like mammograms or immunizations. These plans offered more for less, making consumers more inclined to see doctors, but this factor and the number of required to administer HMO’s, began to decrease their profitiblity of the HMOs.
Real costs were largely replaced by co-pays, and a lessening of patient choice. Physicians were offered incentives for treating patients conservatively, as those who managed these plans tried to spread resources among many members with varying medical needs. As the doctors become more accountable to managers than patients, getting care became more complicated. Managed care was really about managed costs.
Medicaid and Medicare gave more individuals access to healthcare, by placing their beneficiaries in HMOs or the same pools as the privately insured. This was a good solution, until the low fees paid to providers, failed to cover the costs of the services provided. The difference between fees and costs, made it necessary to shift those costs to other patients–artificially inflating costs.
Many favored a government-run single-payer system. If you are a parent, it is likely your house operates with a single-payer system. At least one adult makes money, which is then used to fund all the expenses of the household. Because the amount of money is limited, someone has to make the decisions about where the money will be spent. Everyone in the home has a want-list, but there simply isn’t enough money to for everyone to get everything on their list. The person(s) in charge of the money, have to make the best decisions they can as to what is practical or impractical.
Children may not understand all the details of household finances, but they come to understand they can’t have everything they want. Parents aren’t “rationing” what their kids get, but out of necessity, parents make decisions to assure there is enough money for things like food & shelter. Whether it be the one in your house, or that of nationalized healthcare, every single-payer system operates within limits. This balancing act is necessary to sustain the system. The Affordable Care Act, sets up an extensive set of rules which attempt to establish how this will be done. My next post will examine some of those provisions.
Deb’s Note: This is the second post devoted to explaining the Affordable Care Act–aka ObamaCare. I have chosen to write about this subject because I believe women need to know how it will affect their families and/or loved ones. The subject is extensive, but I hope to wrap it up in a few(?) more posts.
My “light bulb moment” began with a Band-aid. I wouldn’t have sought treatment for the wound, but Beloved Soul Mate insisted I get a tetanus shot. The adhesive bandage used to cover an inconsequential injury, triggered a mental disruption that lingers, almost two decades later.
Back then, I had old-school insurance. Not an HMO, not a PPO, just an indemnity policy. An indemnity policy is a contractual agreement between an insurer and the insured, as to whom will pay for what. On the itemized invoice, a generic type of Band-Aid (which was called a surgical dressing) cost $66. The wound healed fine, but long after, I was bothered by how and why the charge for something with a retail value of about .11, cost six-hundred times as much.
Perhaps my insurer and I were subsidizing the cost of treating deadbeats, illegal aliens, or those who couldn’t afford treatment. Maybe the inflated prices were helping pay for expensive treatments, or cover costs associated with malpractice. Whatever the reality, that “surgical dressing” seemed to be “window-dressing” on a larger problem.
Not long after, Hillary Clinton began doing her best to convince America to adopt a national healthcare plan. After being charged so much for so little, I was interested, but skeptical. It was clear costs no longer reflected the real cost of services.
It was easy to see symptoms of distress in our medical system, but there was no easy remedy. I’d heard the rhetoric about, rich doctors, greedy insurers, profiteering lawyers, and money-grabbing pharmaceutical companies. It seemed greed was at the root, but nobody was talking about self-interested or freeloading consumers–even though it was well-know patients would clog emergency rooms for non-emergencies, like colds to avoid paying doctors. It seemed even those with insurance wanted everything for nothing.
The huge disparity between what consumers paid and the costs of what they received could not be ignored. With the best treatments, innovative technologies and the ongoing development of life-changing drugs, medicine in America was then and is now, generally the best in the world–except for one glaring thing. Some were receiving services for less than what it cost the providers, others were paying more than seemed reasonable for services received. High costs and the plight of the uninsured seemed to necessitate an overhaul, but with government-intervention, a decline in the quality of care seemed inevitable.
No matter what anyone paid, one thing remained the same. The value of health or life, could not be measured in dollars and cents. Whether it was a premature birth, a child with cancer, or an aging parent, when the patient was someone we cared about, we wanted the best care money could buy–even if it meant risking financial ruin.
That Band-Aid, was overpriced, but a bargain, because it launched my education into healthcare. Not an easy education, but an ongoing quest to understand the real costs of healthcare. Healthcare in America is good, but there isn’t a Band-Aid big enough to fix the problems. After years, not months, of dedicated reading and research, I still feel barely qualified to write about it. The problems affecting our healthcare system are far-reaching and complex.
Every aspect of our medical system has been affected by the necessity of cost-shifting, which is why some form of nationalized healthcare seems to be the necessary solution. Unfortunately for all, the issue has become money, not health. Giving the government the authority to make sure everyone gets care seems like a great idea, but it’s problematic. The next phase in American healthcare will be redefined by costs, not care.
There isn’t anyone who can fully know or understand the implications of the Affordable Care Act, (ACA). Not only is the new law thousands of pages, but it leaves many provisions undefined. I‘ll do my best to hit the major points, as they have been defined–with my only intention being to represent the facts fairly. Because of my sincere desire to write without partisan bias, I prefer to call the bill that has been passed, by its proper name, The Affordable Care Act (ACA) instead of its better-known name “Obama-Care.”
Over the next couple weeks, I hope to shed some light, on what can be reasonably expected under The Affordable Care Act. My intent is not to politicize this blog, but to illuminate issues affecting this audience. The issue is healthcare, not politics. Everyone needs to be aware of changes that will affect our healthcare system, but the issue is of particular importance to women, since we are often the primary caregivers for ill loved ones. The facts are sobering. If you value your health or the health of those around you, you cannot afford not to know what to expect under “affordable” healthcare.
One shouldn’t laugh upon receiving a letter from a law firm charging them with defamation and/or libel. There is nothing funny about being charged with crimes one hasn’t committed. Even so, seeing the big letters BFD at the top of the letter caused me to giggle sophomorically. I found the charges therein to be equally laughable. The letter came from the law firm of Baca, Findlay & Dziak, which purportedly represents T.S. Wiley, the developer of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) known as The Wiley Protocol. In addition to accusing me of malicious intent, defamation, libel and something called tortious interference, the letter demands I correct and retract all statements made to harm the various interests and entities associated with The Wiley Protocol.
The mission of this blog, is now and has always been, to provide women with interesting, empowering, edifying and thought-provoking information. Though every opinion I share may not be agreeable or correct, nothing here is ever written with malice or intent to harm anyone. I may at times be snarky, but I am not malicious even with my would-be enemies.
Furthermore, though some have no problem exaggerating their credentials, I am not comfortable inflating mine. Reluctantly, I call myself a writer, but am degreed in neither English, nor Journalism. I am a blogger, and as such, I direct the reader to what is stated on my ABOUT page.
“My opinions may make some uncomfortable. If you find this to be true, please realize they represent one woman’s take.”
Even so, I have this governing thing within me called integrity. It’s a nuisance, but it compels me to strive to write with fairness and accuracy. Additionally, because I esteem highly the intelligence of my readers, I make every effort NOT to write things which can’t be substantiated.
That being said, if I had any intent to harm any of the Wiley interests, I could have linked to sites which discredit The Wiley Protocol, or quoted the testimonials of former Wiley Protocol users. I could have linked to comments of Wiley’s former colleagues, including Bent Formby, Ph. D, who served as lead investigator on two of the three(?) published research papers which bear her name. Formby, who has distanced himself from The Wiley Protocol, has spoken out about Wiley’s lack of academic understanding, and her unwillingness to conduct clinical trials on The Wiley Protocol.
The text below (in red) is transcribed verbatim from the letter from the offices of BF&D, dated March 13, 2012. (Prepare to be confused.) The italics indicate my response.
This law firm represents T.S.Wiley individually and Wiley Chemists, Inc., and we have been asked to write this letter to you. Many of your statements about my client in your March 6th, 2012 www.deblogsite.com posting are untrue and defamatory. You have clearly made them maliciously to injure Wiley Chemists, Inc. in its trade, office and profession. As such they are defamatory per se. Under Cal. Civ. Code §§44, 45a, and 46 this letter constitutes a demand for immediate retraction in writing on www.deblogsite.com of these false and libelous statements.
In accordance with Cal. Civ. Code § 46, my client demands that your retraction and correction be accompanied by an editorial in which you specifically repudiate your libelous statements. Your web postings and conduct constitute tortious interference with the business and contractual relations of Ms. Wiley and Wiley Chemists, Inc. As such they are actionable and expose you to the imposition of compensatory as well as punitive damages. Furthermore, if my client is forced to file suit to stop your wrongful conduct, it will also seek an award of it s attorney fees and related litigation expenses.
Below we have noted some of the more patent, malicious and libelous comments made by you in your posting; some of them also evidence your tortious interference. Please note, however, that this listing of your errors does not constitute a complete nor exhaustive tally of all the defamatory errors present in your posting. Nothing stated herein is intended as, nor should it be deemed to constitute a waiver or relinquishment, of any of my client’s rights or remedies, whether legal or equitable, all of which a hereby expressly reserved. This letter is a confidential legal communication and is therefore not for publication.
Notice it says, “Below, we have noted some of the more patent, malicious and libelous comments made by you in your posting.” However, I didn’t say ANY of the things listed below, nevertheless, I am prepared to address each statement individually.
-Ms Wiley’s protocol is supported by over 100,000 pages of peer reviewed bench science.
If you say so, but I owe it to my readers to explain that though Teresa Sue Wiley cites the research of others exhaustively, many of her citations, neither validate, nor support her hypotheses. The statement above suggests there are 100,000 pages of research directly related to The Wiley Protocol, but The Wiley Protocol has yet to be evaluated by conventional scientific method. It has not been subjected to a randomized placebo-controlled double-blinded study. At this time, there are no published studies regarding the safety or efficacy of The Wiley Protocol. To date, the only studies, I am aware of, are uncontrolled observational studies. If I am wrong on this, I will eagerly set the record straight and am happy to provide links to any published or peer-reviewed research done in specific regard to The Wiley Protocol.
-Ms. Wiley is a published and recognized scientist and has never held herself to the public to be any type of medical doctor, whatsoever.
Once again, this list confuses me. I clearly stated that she is not a doctor in the following statement, “Experts who have spoken out against this course of treatment, say the dosages Wiley “prescribes” are dangerously high, but Wiley says she’s not prescribing anything. She can’t. She’s not licensed to practice medicine. Instead, she has a cult-like following of doctors who are treating patients with her protocol. She holds the patent, so presumably she makes money without having to worry about being sued for malpractice. “ Notice the use of quotation marks around the word “prescribes”.
You accuse me of “erroneous and false statements”. I am not sure by what chutzpah or civil code, you accuse me, as clearly we agree she has no medical background.
-Your failure to quote or cite to opinions or statements of any identified experts supporting your position smacks of base and unprofessional journalism.
Again, I am a blogger, not a journalist, however, I linked the piece to an article published in Newsweek which quotes the opinions of Dr. Isaac Schiff, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Harvard Medical School, as well as the opinion of Dr. Wulf Utian, founder of the North American Menopause Society, Gynecologist and consultant at Cleveland Clinic. (Incidentally that authors of the article, Barbara Kantrowitz and Patrice Wingert were awarded The Endocrine Society Award for Excellence in Science and Medical Journalism for the article.) Some might think the failure to fact-check or accurately characterize what I wrote, smacks of of sloppy lawyer-ism.
-You mention a “following of cult-like doctors” but do not provide even one appropriate example.
For which you should thank me, as I didn’t want to go there, but once again, you have carelessly misquoted and misrepresented what I wrote. What I actually said was “cult-like following of doctors”. The term “cult-like” refers to followers of a particular thing. The statement is value-neutral and could be interpreted as an endorsement of T.S.Wiley’s protocol, as it seems many are convinced Wiley is a visionary. The statement is no more derogatory than it would be if I were to say, “The Grateful Dead still enjoys a cult-like following.”
(Incidentally, the woman in this video alludes to what has been previously said by me and others about Wiley’s credentials.)
-Ms. Wiley never prescribes any medication, of any type, to anybody; licensed doctors do.
Not sure what issue you meant to address here. My statement was, “She can’t prescribe anything–she’s not a doctor”. However, the video linked calls into question the meaning of “prescribing”.
-The article is rife with biased “reporting” and a complete lack of fact-checking and/or journalistic professionalism.
The statement above is false.
I research and fact-check before I begin writing. Because of my own interest in The Wiley Protocol, I was researching it long before I realized it was a pertinent subject for my audience. Initially, it sounded SO good, I was well on my way to becoming one of T.S. Wiley’s fans. I ordered and read both of her books. As I researched, I began to have questions about the safety of the protocol. I wouldn’t have written this article, if I couldn’t back up what I said. I am happy to correct any statement, which I believe is misleading. (To avoid having to waste time with more threatening letters from the distinguished firm of BF&D, I will refrain from sharing my opinion of her books. Those interested, can read what others have said on Amazon.)
Your failure to retract and/or correct ALL of your erroneous and false statements and their repetition after notice of their falsehood constitutes further publication of libel. It also confirms your malicious intent.
If you do not immediately publish the requested retraction, and CEASE AND DESIST from tortious interference and making false and malicious comments about Ms. Wiley, The Wiley Protocol, or Wiley Chemists, Inc. or it’s [sic] officers, and its programs, we will file suit against you. Please govern yourself accordingly.
Respectfully sir, I assure you I will govern myself as always–with ethics and integrity.
To set the record straight:
The letter states that Ms. Wiley is a published scientist. Perhaps my definition of scientist was too narrow. In my mind, a scientist is one who has been educated in science and/or one who conducts experiments using scientific method, submitting findings for peer review and examination.
If the definition of scientist is expanded to include all who put forth theories, or all who write about their experiments, then Ms. Wiley is to be recognized as a scientist, along with the renowned Hunter S. Thompson, who wrote extensively regarding his experiments with pharmaceuticals and other substances. I therefore retract the remark that Ms. Wiley is not a scientist. If putting forth a hypothesis and writing about it makes one a scientist, she is clearly a scientist, as is every child who has ever written up a science fair experiment.
If T.S. Wiley is on to something. I wish her nothing but the very best. I hope she makes a “bazillion” dollars. (I have no idea how much that is, but it’s a term I got from an explanation of interleukins in one of her books.) If she is successful in helping women solve their menopausal problems without causing harm, she deserves our praise. However, as I wrote in the article, we never know the full implications of medical therapies until they have been tested on a large sample of users. Therefore, I stand by my original statement that the BHRT experiment is the least monitored medical experiment of our times.
It is my sincere hope that safe and effective treatments will be developed to help every woman who finds mid-life changes a challenge to their health or well-being. If T.S. Wiley is the one who succeeds in doing this, I will gladly join the cult of Wiley Protocol true believers. In the meantime, it is my hope that anyone considering the use of HRT, BHRT or ANY other medical treatment, will explore their options before making the dangerous assumption that doctors are always right. Doctors and scientists, like lawyers and writers, are human and therefore subject to error.
Lastly, this is neither a scientific, nor medical forum. Though appropriate comments are welcome, I will neither debate, nor argue the merits or dangers of this therapy any further. Anyone who wants to know more, can use the resources below to reach their own conclusions.
The Wiley Protocol: An Analysis of Ethical issues Also available at : http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18551081
After this post appeared I heard from writer Andrew Tilin, who has also researched The Wiley Protocol. His experience with The Wiley Protocol for Men is chronicled in his book The Doper Next Door. I recommend it for anyone who would like to learn more about T.S. Wiley or The Wiley Protocol. The story of how his life was altered by supplemental testosterone, is one told with candor and likable guy-next-door humanity.
If you are old enough to remember Tippi Hedren, the iconic actress best known for her performance in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, you might be surprised to learn which beauty standard she helped popularize. Peroxide blonde would seem logical, but Hedren was indirectly responsible for mainstreaming the manicure.
Ever wonder why there are so many Vietnamese-owned nail shops? Perhaps you assumed Hanoi, and Saigon were cities overflowing with manicurists just waiting to spread their polish in the U.S. The Vietnamese nail salon has become so common as to become entrenched in our lexicon of racial stereotypes, but it was Tippi Hedren’s compassion for the plight of a handful of Vietnamese refugees, which snowballed into Vietnamese dominance of the field. I stumbled upon this fascinating story while doing fact-finding regarding manicures. Writing about manicures might be dull. Describing my latest’s doctor’s visit is dull, but what I learned about manicures after my last doctor‘s appointment–including the Tippi Hedren connection, is both interesting and important.
Previously, I shared the frustration I’d felt after doctors failed to help me with a bothersome skin condition. After waiting for three months, the day to meet my new dermatologist had finally arrived. He examined the troubled skin and asked questions. As he talked, he won me, convincing me he was both caring and really smart. He gave me instructions as he scribbled prescriptions. Then he told me that he thought my nails might be the cause of the problem, and asked how long I‘d been having my nails done professionally. As he explained it, nail finishes can emit chemical elements which cause irritation–especially to skin and eyes. He said the acrylics, gels and shellac polishes are especially problematic.
I did the math, as I considered his theory. Though I have long been a devotee of the pedicure, my commitment to regular professional manicures is relatively recent. My manicure habit began after I took a break from playing guitar. Strumming a guitar destroys a manicure so quickly, there isn’t any point in having one. After I stopped playing regularly, I began enjoying long nails and manicures–especially the new shellac manicures.
For the uninitiated, the shellac manicure gives a glassy hard, almost chip-proof finish. Not only do they look better than regular polish, they stay flawless for weeks. I enjoy doing the kinds of things that ruin manicures, but this is no ordinary manicure. The world became a more perfect place when this hands-on girl discovered the secret to having nails which were both pretty and practical. I admit the removal process, which requires soaking the nails [fingers] in full-strength acetone (often for as long as 20 minutes) kind of scared me, but it was something I was willing to endure.
The dermatologist explained acrylic, gels and shellacs, which use a ultra-violet light as a hardening catalyst, don’t always cure uniformly, causing them to sometimes release chemicals even after they seem to be fully hardened. There are many dangerous chemicals in salon products, but one in particular methyl methacrylate (MMA) is known to cause eye and skin irritation.
He told me to give up the manicures for a month and see if it helped. It was hard to accept my nail polish might be the culprit, but I agreed to go au naturel to test his theory. Still skeptical, I began combing the internet for corroborating evidence. If there were any connection between the nail-chemical and skin problems thing, it should be easy to find empirical evidence online. However, before I found any, I learned of another hazard. This should come as no surprise, to anyone who has ever smelled the strong odor of chemicals in the air at some salons, but in this case the danger was those seemingly innocuous hand dryers. Dermatologists are now seeing women whose hands are prematurely aged, and increasing numbers of cases of skin cancers on the hands because of repeated exposures to the UV light. It seems these dryers pose the same danger as excessive sun exposure or too much time spent in tanning beds.
Because I had grown fond of the understated sexy elegance of the French manicure, I was devastated at the thought of having to go back to plain old nails, but not nearly as devastated as I would be to learn I’d developed skin cancer for the love of a manicure. Scaly skin was creepy enough, but this new risk made me wonder if beautiful nails are worth the risks.
The break-up would be painful, because I had finally conquered my neurosis about hazards associated with nail salons, and developed a relationship with a nail tech whose shop practices I trusted. I visited her for one last manicure in an extra bold Midnight Scarlett, before swearing off. I have no idea if I’ll ever get another shellac manicure again, but if I do at least I’ll be better informed about the risks.
Deb’s note: There are many health hazards associated with nail services. The use of improperly sanitized tools or foot basins can spread germs and blood-born infections. Some salons use chemicals that have been deemed unsafe. Acrylic nails, gels and shellacs can all cause damage to the nail bed, infections of the cuticle and painful dermatitis. No matter what kind of services you choose, be wise in choosing where you go and do your homework about the risks associated with your preferred manicure.
My last post was about fear. Many in this country are afraid for the future. I admit, I too fear what I see happening–especially the loss of objectivity that has resulted from relying on and trusting the media. It seems we are being discouraged from the practice of critical thinking–especially in regards to social issues and public policy. In an age when some opinions are deemed more correct than others, our individual views are no longer respected. Whereas once, discussion and debate were the sport of the thinking person, from grade school to university, dissent has fallen out of favor. Testing one’s ideas, against those of others, is no longer encouraged, and those who argue, are disregarded as disagreeable people with distasteful views.
I was frothing with frustration over the recent flap about The Susan G. Komen Foundation’s decision to cut funding to Planned Parenthood. Many women have strong emotional allegiance to one or both organizations. I have views on both organizations, but allegiance to neither.
On the one side is Planned Parenthood, defending a woman’s right to control her body. Planned Parenthood’s services cover a broad spectrum related to reproductive health and sexual freedom. Over the last 100 years, Planned Parenthood has been to many the patron saint of the sexually active, rescuing many from the consequences of their choices.
On the other side, is best known entity to any and all who have been affected by breast cancer. Giving hope to all who have felt the helplessness of a diagnosis of breast cancer, and comfort to those who have lost loved ones to the disease, the Komen Foundation exists for the sole purpose of raising money to fund things related to stopping breast cancer. With their iconic pink ribbons everywhere, this organization is favored by all who have who have walked for The Cure , or counted their years cancer-free.
Though what these organizations do, can be quantified by their annual reports, it is the intangible things they provide which wins over supporters. Both organizations have their own mission(s). Certainly, Planned Parenthood’s status as the nation’s largest abortion provider makes them the more controversial organization, yet they succeeded in making the public angry at a benign organization devoted to saving women’s lives.
I was seething at the media coverage and social reactions to the conflict. A controversy over money, was depicted as a clash between Pro-Life and Pro-Choice factions. The battle line was drawn, somewhere between The T & A. Most of us value the stuff above our waists as much as we value the stuff below, nevertheless, the media and social networks were buzzing with allegations that that The Susan G. Komen Foundation hates women. There were accusations that Planned Parenthood was being unfairly targeted because of the political agenda of SGK. It was reported that the funding cuts would endanger low-income and minority women.
Nobody in the media was presenting the facts. The issue was covered emotionally, not objectively. Illustrating the kind of angry remarks which flooded social media and the blogosphere were comments showing the gun* pictured here, as evidence Susan G. Komen is pro-death. This seemed especially ironic to me considering one of the reasons Planned Parenthood is so revered, it that it is emblematic of women being empowered to take control of their own lives. Isn’t Planned Parenthood the feminist solution to freeing women from men’s attempts to subjugate them?
*The Komen foundation was not affiliated or partnering with the handgun manufacturer or this gun.
Lost in the emotion and hype were the facts.
There were reasons that SGK decided to pull the grants. Not only that, but SGK wasn’t pulling all the grants to all of Planned Parenthood, just to clinics who were under investigation for possible misuse of federal funds. The media focused on how women would suffer because they wouldn’t have access to cancer screenings, but they failed to mention Planned Parenthood does not provide mammography. In fact, the kind of screening they do, isn’t that different from the kind 16-year old boys dream of performing. They do manual exams, and provide referrals to other agencies equipped to do mammography or ultrasound. It doesn’t seem those services would be very expensive to provide, yet the SGK grants amounted to about $700,000. That seems like a large amount, but it’s small change compared to the approximately $300 million that Planned Parenthood receives from taxpayers via Medicaid, or the $70 million in Title X funding. Nevertheless, some vowed to never again support Susan G. Komen’s organization. Others rallied to raise money to shore-up Planned Parenthood. Listening to the outrage, one could easily be lead to believe Planned Parenthood would be significantly impacted by this loss of funding.
The politics of women’s health are filled of controversy, but the commitment to women’s health shouldn’t be. These organizations have different agendas, and represent different things to different women. The media wanted us to believe that if Planned Parenthood lost, women would suffer, but it’s not a zero sum game. The big losers in this round were neither the clinics, nor clients of Planned Parenthood. The real losers were women–as an organization funding breast cancer research became the enemy, while the organization representing a woman’s right to choose, made it clear they believe they are THE only choice.
Deb’s Note: This controversy will have a lasting impact on The Susan G. Komen Foundation for The Cure, as those who Pro-Choice supporters express disdain and Pro-Life supporters distance themselves from SGK for their affiliation with Planned Parenthood.
Just finished paying bills. There are always too many, but now there are even more from our healthcare providers. Along with the usual sports physicals, school vaccine requirements, a couple of strep cultures and other routine things, we had a few more health care expenses this year. Nothing serious, just stuff. Nevertheless, in the short time since The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law, there are already signs “affordable care” may have hidden costs.
In the two years, since it’s passage, I’ve lost two gynecologists. Both were Canadians who had come to The United States, because they wanted to practice medicine without the inevitable restrictions of socialized medicine. With our system due to be radically changed, both made the decision to return to Canada. Once again, I would be looking for an ideal doctor within the confines of a healthcare plan.
In addition to the usual co-pays, our pediatric group started imposing a “surcharge” for office visits. Not long after, our famly’s pediatrician announced he would retire–early. At least I still had my long-trusted primary care physician.
I had developed a minor skin irritation around my eyes. When it didn’t go away, I made an appointment with a dermatologist, I’d seen previously. When I arrived at the office, they apologetically informed me they had pulled out of our medical group. The doctor explained, they could no longer afford to absorb costs for services reimbursed, at a rate less than what they cost to provide. With new restrictions soon to be enacted, he decided it was no longer worth the trouble or the expense. They were now going to focus their practice on services paid directly by consumers–elective procedures like tattoo removals and cosmetic surgeries.
So heartless, to deny care over money. Many believe it’s about time, doctors stopped being allowed to make obscene profits, at our expense. I had tremendous respect for this doctor, but that day my respect for him was increased. By cutting ties to the medical group(s) and their overseers, this doctor had reclaimed his right to practice medicine his way. Medicine is a science, but the practice of medicine is an inexact science, fraught with risks. It’s like life & death algebra, requiring its practitioners to solve for unknowns, with little room for errors. Doctors can’t practice good medicine, if their decisions are controlled by people less knowledgeable. Good doctors are as deserving of pay, as anyone else with specialized skills.
I would have preferred that my insurer would pick up my tab, but I like this doctor, so I agreed to pay for the visit. After the examination, he explained there was something that would likely eliminate the problem, but it was costly and not covered by my insurance. He prescribed an affordable alternative–a common steroid cream. It helped, but the condition would return as soon as I stopped applying it. One tube of ointment later, I returned to my trusted family doctor.
Though the steroid cream alleviated the symptoms, it had done nothing to eliminate the underlying condition. In fact, the problem had worsened and spread. He suggested cold showers, no soap. Cold showers? Maybe he thought I said “sin” problems, instead of “skin” problems. No tests, no prescription, no help. This didn’t seem like the doctor I’d become accustomed to seeing. Had the hassle of justifying treatment become too onerous for my previously proactive physician?
I left his office with skin that looked as awful as it felt, and a referral to a new dermatologist, who didn’t have an opening for more than three months. By now, wearing makeup would have been about as effective as trying to spit-shine tree bark, so I threw out all my make-up. It was going to be a long three months.
In the meantime, a family member who used to run a vitamin store suggested adding flax oil to my diet. Another swore by the therapeutic benefits of Argan oil. I bathed in oatmeal. I bathed in seaweed. I soaked in oil. I used hydrocortisone cream and salycilic acid to control the itching. I trekked to the beauty emporium, Sephora, searching for any kind of restorative moisturizer. Nothing helped. By now, the condition had spread and progressed to the point my eyelids were often cracked & bleeding.
Then came the stye. For those who have never experienced this, it is a dreadful condition consisting of equal parts pain and ugly. The first stye, was followed by a another about ten days later, the swelling of which caused me to resemble a prize fighter. I returned to my primary care physician, who sent me home with instructions to try warm compresses. Though this the commonly recommended treatment for styes, it’s not a very good one, so when the third stye appeared, I pleaded with my doctor to dispense something more effective than old-world advice. At the onset of the stye number four, I no longer cared what my insurance would cover. I made an appointment with an eye specialist. I was ready to pay whatever it cost to get relief.
I asked this doctor, if she thought there was any possibility the broken skin on my eyelids was making me prone to recurrent eye infections. She laughed as if that were the most improbable and ridiculous thing she’d every heard. Obviously, I was stupid for even throwing it out there. Nevertheless, she began grilling me about what I’d tried on my skin. I began listing all the things I’d tried. She was clearly irritated as she reminded me I didn’t have the expertise to be treating myself–something I was well aware of. She scolded me for using over-the-counter products, and told me I should leave the treatments to real doctors. I tried in vain to explain my motivation was despair, not arrogance. When I realized she had stopped listening to me, my frustration turned to tears.
She had examined me, but she clearly didn’t have any idea what she was seeing. I on the other hand, recognized her condition immediately. It was easy to diagnose her as suffering from the vanity that afflicts some graduates of medical school. She gave me a prescription for an antibiotic and told me to come back in a couple of weeks, but I won’t be going back. I don’t have much confidence in a physician who doesn’t recognize the helplessness a patient feels when the medical system can’t or won’t help them.
I am still waiting for the appointment with the new dermatologist, giving me time to reflect on all of this. Looking back, I realize what I spent on co-pays and out-of pocket doctor’s visits, would have been generous compensation for an office visit with a doctor of my choosing, and what I’ve spent on things that didn’t help would have surely have paid for something that would have. I would have been better off, if I’d relied on the expertise of the first doctor and paid for the medicine he would have liked to prescribe. My my time & money would have both been better spent, if I had chosen how to spend them.
Our medical system is in a troubled state. We are all affected by the rising cost of healthcare, but there isn’t any way to get around what should be obvious–somebody has to pay the bill. Those who believe we can continue to get quality care without being charged for it, risk pain and suffering as they come to terms with the new reality. We are yet to fully realize how the implementation of our our new healthcare system will impact us, but one thing is certain, the untold costs of affordable healthcare will be paid by us, not our government. I hope we can afford affordable healthcare.
I am truly fond of the older vehicle I drive! People might wonder why I like my ride better than anyone else’s. I can’t explain it–the old gal fits me, we go together.
I feel exactly the same about my gals–the ones on my chest. I’ve seen bigger, better and more expensive, but I like these. They fit me, we go together.
When I was younger I didn’t think beyond size and shape. It was all about appearance. Back then, I didn’t realize they would come to be a reminder of the wonder of motherhood or the vulnerability of womanhood.
I love mine. They are so much better than a hanger for showing off sweaters. I’m still amazed that they nourished the newborns. I love that they’ve often often provided a wonderfully soft place for a kid who needed comfort to rest a sad head. Unfortunately, just as with old cars, sometimes they go bad. Inherent with having breasts is a threat of breast cancer.
Having spent the first third of my life without breasts, it’s not like I couldn’t live without them. Sure, I’d miss them, but I’d be okay. Given a choice, I’d rather not have to say goodbye to mine. I spent more than the first half of my life without children, but unlike the breasts, I couldn’t bear saying goodbye to them—which is why I never skip the mammogram.
There are always questions about the worth of routine screening tests like mammograms, but they can and do save lives by diagnosing cancer in its earliest stages. Not a sure thing, but a good bet. I’ve won poker with a lesser hand–which in this case is nothing more than holding two of a kind.
The calendar having reminded me, it was time for my annual photo-shoot again, I had mine yesterday. It took less than an hour of my life–20 minutes of which was spent browsing a copy of ESPN’s NFL Preview. Except for the marginal magazine selection, I can’t understand why women avoid mammograms.
Had to take of my shirt. I’ve done that before.
Had my breasts handled and squeezed. Not the first time for that either.
What’s the big deal? Granted, I would have preferred a gentle fondle, but the big squeeze was over quickly, and still preferable to a prostate exam.
As the technician reviewed my latest series of B/W glossies, I was thinking about the reasons some of my girlfriends give for avoiding the procedure.
It’s unpleasant. Valid argument, but life is filled with little unpleasantries. Chemotherapy and radiation are more unpleasant.
If I have cancer, I don’t want to know.
Sorry, but if you have cancer at some point, you will not have the luxury of not-knowing. If the prospect of having cancer frightens you, it makes no sense to avoid something that might afford you the chance to eliminate cancer before it eliminates you.
It’s a personal choice.
Yes–dumb choice, but okay. If you’re a fan of making your own choices, consider how a terminal illness would limit yours. Are you the only one who gets a choice? Run this one by your kids: “Given the choice would you rather have Mom around or watch her die a painful death?” I’m guessing the kids won’t have any trouble making a wiser choice than you.
I’m going to die anyway.
No arguing that one, you have nothing to lose.
Maybe you won’t lose your breasts, maybe you won’t lose your hair, maybe you won’t lose your sense of well-being or your future, but the people around you will lose sleep over losing a person who plays an important part in their lives.
It’s my life.
Yeah, about that. Your life overlaps with those around you. Nobody wants to see you sick. Nobody wants to see you suffer. You may never be diagnosed with breast cancer, but refusing to have a mammogram shows a selfish disregard for those whose lives overlap with your own.
It’s your choice. It’s your life. You’re gonna die anyway.
Months ago, I promised readers I’d be reviewing some of my favorite pharmaceuticals. I’m a very reluctant lab rat. I hate taking drugs, for a variety of reasons. I fear side-effects and the later findings that never come out until after a drug has been widely prescribed. It’s my own little neurosis, but I could probably count on my hands the sum-total of all the drugs, recreational or prescription, I’ve taken in my life.
People who know me well will tell you I’m pretty easy going. I don’t have many quarrels, I’m patient most of the time. I‘m generally happy. I don‘t know if people would describe me as mellow, but I don‘t think anyone would describe me as moody. In my younger years, I took, myself and many other things too seriously. I didn’t have the same level of patience, and I tended to be more reactive.
Parenting changed that. The first years of parenting were a learning experience. I thought I was supposed to make the child behave perfectly. I nearly drove myself crazy trying to reason, time out, and distract the child who seemed to make each day top the previous one. I realized there were many things I couldn’t control–including my two-year old. I changed my mindset and crossed my fingers he’d still turn out okay.
That’s is why when after a couple of years of relative high-Zen parenting, I was horrified when I heard some harpie screaming at my little innocents.
It was me.
The perfectly normal things he and his littler brother did, were getting under my skin. I was overreacting and I knew why. For the first time in my life, the hormonal train of PMS was derailing me a couple days a month.
The doctor called it premenstrual mood dysphoria. He prescribed special just-for-girls drugs–something to insure my mood wouldn’t be skewed. Their girly floral packaging looked like something from Barbie’s Color Me Happy collection–which explains why she can go from career-to-career always looking so darn happy. I’m guessing these are the secret to keeping everything in Barbie’s Dream House so dreamy.
Those pills were all wrong for me–maybe because I’m not Barbie!
The next thing The Doc suggested wasn’t any better–I wanted something to take the edge off–not “Mother’s Little Helper”.
Finally he suggested something that made me shudder . . . . He wanted me to try Prozac. It was not an easy sell.
Prozac? That’s for depressed people, the unbalanced, the mentally ill. He suggested the lowest available dose. It didn’t come in a prissy package, but it did come with an unlimited supply of stigma. I’d read the newspapers, I knew antidepressants were associated with crazy stuff like suicide.
I was against it but I left his office with, yet another, package of samples.
Prozac changed nothing.
My life was exactly the same as before. Stupid people were still stupid. Annoying things still annoyed me. Sad things still made me cry. Prozac was not the “happy” pill, however–Prozac changed everything.
I could be annoyed, angry or sad but the moods were no longer big enough to climb on top of me. Negative emotions were compartmentalized, not pervasive. That it kept me from becoming Mommy Dearest, would be reason enough to have taken them, but the truth is I realized Prozac was allowing me to reconcile my moods with my personality. They let me be who I was inside.
I didn’t have depression. I wasn’t depressed, but sometimes my moods were out of scale with the things that caused them. Prozac allowed me to be in control of my moods, instead of subjected to them. The chemistry in my brain was finally in sync with the rest of me. This basically optimistic and happy person was no longer subjugated by moods that weren’t her.
The stigma of Prozac bothered me, at first. I didn’t want anyone to know I was taking it. However, the stuff changed my life radically, and eventually, I no longer cared who knew.
Now, I know that though I didn’t have depression or a depressive personality, I had previously been trying to balance the bad things in life without the aid of the naturally-occurring brain chemical that helps us to restore emotional balance. Post-Prozac, I didn’t have to deal with emotional disruptions complicating my life and stealing my smile. Seratonin, it’s a good thing!
Had I known how much Prozac would improve my life. I would have asked for Prozac, instead of clothes for my 18th birthday.
Deb’s Note: After taking Prozac a few months, I became so intrigued with it, I read extensively to learn more. I talked to every person I knew who had tried it. I’m pro-Prozac, but it isn’t the right solution for everyone. I can only speak for myself in saying I don’t ever want to live without it. Next week, I will be running a very compelling and powerful piece from a friend who struggled with depression–real depression–the-steals-your-life, debilitating kind. Don’t miss it.
POSTSCRIPT: When I first ran this post, I had intended to include the following links, to allow others to hear another woman’s story. There is still so much stigma in taking any kind of mood-drugs that I appreciated the wit and candor in which this fellow blog-stress shares hers.