(re: birth control and yearly gynecological exams)
My company is currently in the process of changing HR providers. It’s a long, boring process full of forms and sign-ups and deadlines. It also requires that we all make new benefit selections. Yesterday, the new provider sat us all down to go through the new benefit packages.
After some fluff talk about the provider, the presenter jumped into a comparison of our new health plan options. In every option, she mentioned free preventative care. Yay! Free preventative care! At one point, she paused and said, because she’d been burned by it herself, to make sure that you never brought up an issue at a preventative appointment.
“Always make a secondary appointment to discuss any current issues you have. Otherwise, the doctor will charge you for the appointment as it is no longer ‘preventative’.”
[At this point, I should pause and mention that I work with mostly men. I am the only professional female in my office.]
The men look around at each other with baffled expressions before my managing partner finally broke the confused silence on behalf of a significant portion of the room.
“What’s a preventative care appointment?”
What’s preventative care? Are you kidding me?
A second partner caught my eye roll* and chuckle, although he probably had no idea what caused my reaction.
How ridiculous is it that a room full of grown men – men with wives and girlfriends and daughters – don’t know what preventative care appointments are? Are they truly that oblivious to their partner’s health routines?
I wanted to stand up and take them to task:
You do realize that every year, the majority of women have to visit their doctors for said “preventative care” appointments? Typically they involve a fairly invasive exam of our breasts and genitals. Yes, you have to take off your pants. And probably your top too. And also your bra and panties. Here’s a paper robe.
You do realize that if we want to continue birth control, which, you know, vastly improves the quality of everyone’s life, we have to visit the doctor once a year? Because that birth control comes with a prescription. One that expires every year with no option for renewal.
You do realize that some insurance companies (including the one we currently have) require that said preventative exams are done once a year and once a year only. But not just a calendar year! Oh no, that would be too easy! They actually mean that if you had your last gynecological exam on September 20th last year, the earliest day you can get your next exam is September 21st this year.
And on top of that, birth controls prescriptions, at least for the pill and many other daily/weekly/monthly options, are typically for a year only. But actually less than a year because a “month” to the pill is actually only 28 days. So let’s put the last two items together and figure out that math. Need exam to get prescription. Exam has to be 366 days after previous exam. Prescription runs out at 336 days or 364 days, depending on your doctor. So for those last two days or possibly even a month I’m supposed to do what exactly??????
Although, to be honest, the real entity that I’m frustrated with is the medical community, which requires yearly visits for something as essential as birth control. Yes, I know it’s a prescription, and that I should be evaluated before beginning a new regimen. But it’s honestly so frustrating to have to go in year after year for the same prescription. And yes I get that the gynecological exam is important because you can’t exactly see your organs to know something’s wrong, but for low risk individuals, the yearly invasive might be a bit overkill.
And even more frustrating was our insurance company who limited me to single month pickup for birth control. I could no longer pick up a 3 month supply from the pharmacy. The max they would allow was 1 month.
In a way, makes me happy to be done with birth control for a while. Now if only I could single-handedly convince insurance companies to start covering infertility treatments.
*Eye roll brought you by the letter P for Progesterone or also Power-of-crashing-hormones.