Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Health Insurance vs. No Health Insurance

About 2 years ago I cancelled my health insurance. I reasoned that I was paying thousands of dollars more than necessary for something that I wasn't even fully able to use. My dermatologist doesn't take health insurance, and dental wasn't covered. So two out of my three scheduled doctor's appointments weren't covered. Awesome. So basically I was paying $3000 a year to go to the gyno, and of course the occasional antibiotic, which was what I needed.

What I got however when I was covered under health insurance was a lot of unnecessary headaches. This has happened 3 times in my adult life (pretty much the last 10 years). The first time was when I was in college out in Colorado. I woke up one morning with a stabbing pain in my side. I went to the doctor asap. He asked me if I had done any strange physical exercise. Nope. He had me bend over and touch my toes, do some random stretching all the while asking me if it hurt in these certain stretches. Weirdo. His very technical medical diagnosis was that I had probably pulled a muscle doing something I wasn't aware of doing (which was actually quite possible considering the amount of alcohol that was consumed during any given weekend), and he prescribed me pain killers. Hmmmm. Could that be any indication why people are so F-ed up on prescription meds?

Thank god I was done with my finals because 10 minutes with pain killers and a heating pad and I was in a coma. This lasted for 3 days until I went home for Christmas break. So while I was home I became really really sick. I mean I was sick for like 3 weeks. And kept ignoring it because I was too enamored with partying with my friends after not seeing them for 4 months. One night it was too much, I wasn't getting better, so the next day I was off to the doctors. First thing they did was give me a urine test. 

What'd-ya know? Kidney infection! I just want to publicly thank the campus doctor at CU Boulder for misdiagnosing me. He mustn't have had enough experience to know that when women get pains in their side it would be a good thing to give a quick urine test. 

Health insurance ridiculousness episode #2 started in Atlanta when I had just graduated college and was working at the dreaded architecture firm. I went to the dermatologist and ended up having a staff infection. Awesome. So I was put on this medicine which I guess cured it because the said rash never came back. So at the same time, I got sick. Like really sick. I was laid up in bed for about 3 days, and all of a sudden I have these killer headaches. I mean so bad I can barely open my eyes. So I go back to the derm for a checkup and I'm telling her about my headaches. She says something to the effect of  "I don't want to alarm you but one of the side effects of the medicine you have been on is brain swelling which could be the reason you are having headaches." 'Oh fuck' I thought. So she sends me off to an eye doctor to do a scan of my optical nerve or something like that. What'd-ya know? No brain swelling. 

It was actually a caffeine headache. 

How do I know? Well after feeling completely unnerved by both doctors and thinking my life was over and I had some weird unknown disease, I went to Starbucks and got the largest cappuccino they have. Guess what? In about 20 minutes my headache was gone. I just want to publicly thank my dermatologist in Atlanta for scaring the shit out of me and sending me for many unnecessary tests. Next time maybe ask if someone has a caffeine addiction. (Since we are the most over caffeinated country on this planet, that is the first thing I  would ask my patients.

The third episode was a few years ago back home. I went to my family doctor (who is no longer my family doctor) for chronic fatigue. The diagnosis was that I was severely low in B-12. So I started taking B-12 orally which fixed the problem. Well that spiraled into me going there literally every week for something different. A test here. A flu shot there. Some B-12 shots. He tried to push some vaccines on me but that was a giant failure on his part. Every time I went in there there was something else wrong that needed another visit. Finally I just stopped going. I was spending so much time going to these damn appointments and all I was left with was this feeling that I was seriously not right. I just kept thinking 'I'm 26 years old. Why the hell am I spending so much time at the doctors office?" 

At the same time I was going to a dermatologist that liked to cut moles off. A lot. She was a very nice lady who had a field day with the amount of moles I have on my body. It was a bit ridiculous. The last time I went to her she cut 1" out of my armpit. One look at the bloody gauze pads on the table and I was like 'this is not right'. So I found a new derm who is more about quality not quantity. 

All that was before I turned to diet and lifestyle to fix my problems. I cancelled my health insurance by reason that I would just pay for everything out of pocket which would be thousands of dollars cheaper, and it would keep me away from doctors until and if I actually needed to be there. I understand why it costs so much money now to take care of people's health from a doctor's/hospital's point of view. It's because they don't ask enough questions, prescribe too many drugs and tests, and get people looped into going to them for every little ache and pain. 

In the last 2 years since I did a major overhaul on my diet and lifestyle I feel better than I ever have after any doctor visit (except when I found out I was low on B-12... that S-H-I-T saved my life). Even though I don't know everything that is going on inside my body, I have learned to listen to it when it tells me it needs something. Need sleep? You got it- I'll give up my whole weekend to sleep if that's what I need to do. Eventually I guess I will get health insurance when I start to have kids or whatever. But until then, I am really satisfied with the progress I have made with changing the food that I eat and how I live my life. 

Disclaimer: I am not bashing doctors or nurses. I definitely appreciate their value when I am in need of their services, and this by no means that this is my view of all doctors or nurses. There I said it.

Advice: If you are not happy with your doctors find new ones. And get second opinions. And if you believe like I do that more progress can be made with your fork, change your diet and see how amazing you will start to feel.

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