Thursday, July 28, 2011

What Happens When You Don't Have Private Health Insurance

I opened up my blogger thinking, "I should post about what we did this weekend!"

"What DID we do this weekend?"

"Wait. It's Thursday?"

"So it's almost the weekend?"

My life apparently revolves around these brief and blessed breaks from getting up at 5:30 am to send the husband off to work.

So since we actually did nothing last weekend except going into town, which is an Event for us nowadays, I'll write about What Happens When You Don't Have Private Health Insurance.

I've been pregnant twice before. I lost the first baby at 10 weeks pregnant; the second baby is the one you see all the pictures of. For both previous pregnancies, I did not have health insurance, and had to go to Hastings, the free Indian hospital.

Except I'm white. The Indian hospital only cares about me when I'm pregnant, because Ryan's Native American. And won't see me unless I have a doctor's note that I'm pregnant. (Walmart pregnancy tests don't count; I asked.)

So here's the vicious circle: I can't get healthcare because I can't prove I'm pregnant. I can't go to the doctor to get the magical proof of pregnancy because I have no insurance. I'm going to Hastings BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE INSURANCE. They won't see me because I can't prove I'm pregnant.

(Or get on SoonerCare so you can go to a private hospital, which is what I plan on doing this time. They still want a proof of pregnancy to give you pregnancy insurance, though.)

The solution? Pay cash for a fancy Ob/Gyn pregnancy test; get the rest of the prenatal care free. It costs $17.50.

But this pregnancy? I got to the window, told them I need a pregnancy test and I'd be paying cash, and instead of smilingly handing me the clipboard, the two ladies at the window looked at each other uncertainly and one said, "ummmm, do you have SoonerCare?"

"No, that's why I need the pregnancy test, so I can get on SoonerCare, or go to Hastings, or something."

"Welllllllll, if you're paying in cash, it'll be $55, but if you apply for the SoonerCare Family Planning plan, you're automatically pre-approved online, and it'll be free."

"WHAT??? It was $17.50 the last two times I did this!!"

"Yes, but we're not allowed to do a sliding scale with our charges anymore, and we're now required to charge you a $37.50 office visit fee too."


And the SoonerCare online application doesn't work. So I can't go take a pregnancy test. So I can't get the health insurance I'm supposedly entitled to, as a pregnant mom under a certain income level. I can't even go to the Indian hospital where they treat Native Americans (not me, of course, but the baby) for free. If I got strep and needed to get antibiotics or my baby might die, I would just be stuck. Or beg my pharmacist father in law for smuggled antibiotics. Or something. Because I don't have $55 to spend on peeing in a cup so someone can dip the exact same litmus strip in it that I bought at Walmart for $4 and tell me what I've known for thirteen weeks.

You read that right. Our new wonderful healthcare reform is requiring my local Ob/Gyn to charge $55 for an uninsured woman to get a proof of pregnancy so that she can get insurance. It's requiring the health department to charge $45, they said at the clinic. What used to cost a price that made me take a luxury or two off the next grocery list now costs enough to make me take all our produce and dairy off the next grocery list.

It was kind of Oklahoma to begin offering the family planning insurance, which covers pregnancy tests. It would sure be nice if they'd get their website working, so that I could get approved for the family planning insurance, so I could get proof that I'm pregnant, so I could get full insurance, so I could, you know, go in and finally hear my baby's heart beat and be reassured that he/she is growing enough. Or I could drive *back* in to town by myself during the day, which is a burden when you live in the middle of NOWHERE and which we usually do after work or on weekends together, fill out the papers at DHS and wait two or three weeks or however long it takes them to get around to it just to be allowed to go pee in the cup.

Because *this* is what our healthcare reform is really doing for everybody who doesn't work at a job that provides health insurance: SCREWS US OVER. Yeah, I love you and your assumption that everybody worth anything works for Corporate America too. Man, I can't wait until I have to pay a *fee* for not being able to afford your crappy insurance. And whatever's available from the government for those who can't afford it is probably going to be very similar to Hastings: traumatic to a degree that I would almost rather give birth in a parking lot next time.

So whose brilliant idea *was* it to outlaw a sliding scale for cash customers, so that those who came in with money instead of Blue Cross/Blue Shield cards would no longer be able to afford to be seen? Or to put so many burdens on the insurance companies that they had to raise their premiums to levels that regular people can't afford anymore? I mean, the system sucked before, but it sucks way worse now.

Wow, that was supposed to be a funny story and totally turned into a political rant. I guess I need to go put my grumpy pregnant butt in a hot bath with a fantasy novel.

*NB: Full Disclosure: When Ryan heard my horrified gasp of "FIFTY FIVE DOLLARS?" he said, "whatever, just do it." I was the one who decided, not that we didn't have the money, but that we needed it for other things more. We're not destitute. If you were getting ready to take up a collection for our poor impoverished family, we'll still take it, though.*


  1. You should be able to go to the Bedlam Clinic or someplace like that to get it done for free.

  2. Well, once upon a time you could go to the Health Department and get it done for free too. Unless they're open on weekends and I can go sometime when I have errands in Tulsa, I don't think it would be worth the gas to drive that far. Tulsa is an hour away from me. At that point I'm paying almost that much for gas to go get the test done for free - still ridiculous. Thanks for the tip, though! It would be nice if I could make it work out.