Anyway, it was more a financial annoyance than anything since nobody in my family, fortunately, had any health problems. Then a dear friend who hadn’t seen me in several months visited and expressed concern about a splotch on my face. I’d assumed it was just an overgrown freckle, but she observed that it resembled a spot she’d had to have removed from her own face because it was pre-cancerous. Since she’s a nurse, I was alarmed indeed.
My first instinct was to make an appointment with a doctor to have it checked, and then I realized that that was a bad idea. First of all, I’d have to pay for all the costs out-of-pocket since my deductible’s so high and second, I can’t have anything with even a hint of pre-existing condition lest I not be able to find a new plan once the six months on my current one are up. (I’d been looking forward to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act so I COULD find a new one, but given the Republicans’ venom against it and the health care website’s own considerable problems, I’m gettng discouraged and beginning to feel that families like mine are once again on our own.)
So I delayed doing anything, while all the time becoming increasingly anxious; the spot I’d previously ignored so easily now became my entire world every time I looked in a mirror. Then, ironically enough, my insurance agents referred me to a clinic called ReforMedicine, a direct pay clinic that doesn’t deal with insurance. Instead, they post prices for services, and you pay out-of-pocket for your doctor’s visit.
It was a revelation. Dr. Nola Westphal saw me, and after examining the spot, she said it most likely was solar lentigo (aka a liverspot). She said that she could do a biopsy if it would make me feel better, but it was unnecessary and likely to cause a scar. As disheartening as it is to have an age spot, particularly prominently displayed on my face, it sure beats the alternative.
Now THAT was a revelation: A clinic that didn’t immediately press a slew of tests on me out of the fear of being sued and the desire to make money! I didn’t know such a thing was possible. While normally $75 seems like a ton of money to me, and not a sum I part with easily, I considered this fee well spent since I’m no longer convinced I’m going to die a slow and painful death. At least not now. At least not from skin cancer. (I also have some pretty intense anxiety, which I dare not seek medical help to treat, so I’m likely to find another reason to panic.)
But the point of all this is the one I made before: My husband and I work hard, and we want to pay our own bills, but we simply can’t afford insurance on the free market the Republicans claim so blithely is working perfectly well. I remember hearing one argue that health care is a privilege, not a right. If I really did have cancer, though, I wonder if he’d be willing to explain to my son why keeping his mother alive is a “privilege” rather than a right.
But on a positive note, it’s encouraging to me that pioneers like Dr. Westphal and Dr. Usher at ReforMedicine are trying to find a better way to provide health care. Maybe there’s hope, after all.
(Just so you know, I’m not being paid by their clinic, and, while I DID get a $5 discount for paying by check rather than credit card, I’m writing out of true feeling rather than financial interest. As much as I liked Dr. Westphal, I REALLY hope to not be seeing much of her!)