Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own; I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.
Hey all, happy Wednesday and Valentine’s Day! I’m still working on my #MeToo/Music industry piece for you all so, expect that in the next few weeks. There’s just so much about it to work through and my head feels like it’s going to explode every time I sit down to write it and that’s why it’s taking SO LONG. In the meantime, I would like to share with you some good news that I received this morning: MY HEALTH INSURANCE IS COVERING MY BIRTH CONTROL!!!! You may be thinking, “Ummm, isn’t birth control supposed to be already covered by insurance, like, by law?” And to that I would respond, “Our White House is full of white supremacists, sexual predators, and dogmatic followers of Gilead and nothing mAkes SEnse or MaTTeRS ANYMORE. EVERYTHING IS CHAOS HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA?”
Before my maniacal cry laughter makes you completely back away from me, let me give you some background. I have had to be on birth control since I was about 12 years old because of period pain and symptoms that were reminiscent of being stabbed repeatedly in the uterus by a ghost (for those of you who already know this part of my story feel free to tune out). It turns out that I was not being physically assaulted by the paranormal once a month, but had a fun case ( and by fun case, I mean incurable disease) of Endometriosis. After going through maybe two or three types of birth control pills that were available at the time, it became apparent I was going to need stronger stuff.
For eight years I got a shot of Depo Provera in my hip every three months. Was this birth control that helped me be pain free and function like a normal human being (really teenager, so as normal as a teenager can be) covered by insurance? NO. DUH. Remember, as much as our health insurance sucks now it sucked WAAAAY more before the ACA passed. Anyway, my expectations of getting any medical help from anyone but my parents was extremely low. So, when I switched back to the pill (there were more options now) it was as seamless as it could be. I didn’t have to try a million things, my doctor gave me samples of Loestrin FE to try and I felt fine on them. Because this was still pre-ACA it wasn’t covered, but once the ACA passed…. IT STILL WASN’T COVERED.
Loestrin FE (which later became Minastrin and is now Taytulla) was not covered because it is not a generic medication so you have to prove that you can’t take any other meds before they’ll cover it, otherwise you will have to pay out of pocket for it ($130 - $224 a pack). For a while, if my pill got rejected my doctor had to file an emergency appeal stating that I needed it to manage my endo and later (when I did try the generic) that I couldn’t be on the alternatives because they threw me into depressive spirals. Usually this was all it took and then I’d be ok for another year. Wash, rinse, repeat for about 6 years. About a year and a half ago I decided to try a different pill and I felt fine on it for awhile. I later decided it wasn’t for me and to go back to the pill that I’d previously been on and I expected the process to be the same as it was before. Except this time, they didn’t care that my doctor had submitted my medical reasons for needing to be on this particular formula. They rejected it. Twice. And let me tell you, they came for the wrong bitch.
I took the stack of rejection papers they mailed to me, highlighted and made notes all over them and decided to fight them. It’s been close to a month of being on the phone with many CVS Caremark agents, playing phone tag with my nurse at my OB/GYN’s office (she suggested we should get our own separate hotline), requesting documents, sending documents and even reaching out to start finding legal representation if they continued to give us shit. And this morning, my nurse called me to tell me they caved and will be covering my birth control for the year. It was the best news I could receive and I’m dropping off a nice bottle of bubbly for my nurse at her office tomorrow. Seriously, get you some medical professionals that fight for you and support you. We all deserve that. Also, I need you to let this sink in for a bit: this ordeal was JUST about birth control. The victory aside, this experience screams to me how in trouble women’s health and reproductive rights are right now. Not that we’ve ever been in the clear, but that’s another Word Vomit for another Wednesday.
While, if push comes to shove I have the privilege to have the option to pay for this medication out of pocket, it was so important for me to be vigilant about my care. It was important to let them know that I know what I’m worth and what I need. It was important to me to not stay silent because that’s how they get away with treating people like a bottom line instead of a person. I don’t know why my insurance ultimately decided to approve my medication, but I have a feeling it was partly because they realized that they were dealing with someone who isn’t easily intimidated by a stack of papers, who knows that they have no grounds or basis for denying me care, and would fight them til the bitter end.
Katie Louchheim would like to give all the Valentines to all those medical professionals who have dedicated their lives to caring and supporting women and our health. You are invaluable and you make the world a better place for us all.