I woke up in pain this morning. It’s not a new pain, but it’s one I had under control – for the past two years, it’s been under control – thanks to a preventative course of treatment by a skilled acupuncturist / naturopath, whom I was seeing once or twice a month for treatments that kept the inflamation down without medication. It’s a pain that two orthopedic surgeons previously told me was only treatable with surgery. It’s a pain that is debilitating, and it’s back.
It’s back because I have new insurance, and my new insurance doesn’t cover “alternative therapies”. I now have to pay the full cost of each treatment instead of just a copay, and the cost is more than my budget can bear so I haven’t been going. We have group insurance at work, for which I am very, very grateful; but this year our group was hit with a 52% rate increase because we had claims. Imagine that – some employees actually used their insurance! And because they did, my company was forced to cut back on benefits because we can’t afford that kind of rate increase. I understand our company’s situation, and I know they didn’t want to cut benefits but was forced to because our group dared to use its benefits and now insurance companies see that our group is costing them money instead of making them money. Never mind all the years my company has paid the premiums for its employees, never mind that we didn’t have any major claims for decades. One year with claims, and BOOM – your group is toxic. They can’t kick you out, but they can raise your rates so high that your company has no choice but to find options, which for us meant cutting benefits. As it was, my company swallowed double-digit increases in order to keep offering health insurance for our employees.
The really sad thing is, it’s not the insurance companies that suffer – it’s the people that need the insurance in the first place.
I have hip impingements, in both hip joints. I have had xrays, MRIs, taken regimes of NSAIDs, been to physical therapy, and seen two different bone doctors. Both told me surgery was my only option, but I sought a third opinion – one that doesn’t require cutting into my hips or shaving off excess bone, one that treats the body holistically and helps it to deal with a condition that is not going away on its own but that can be managed. And it was managed. For two years, I was able to live relatively pain-free, to play volleyball and softball. To go for long walks and take bike rides. To sit without pain, to sleep the night through, to get in and out of the car without groaning and grabbing onto the door for support. To walk without limping.
And now, because I can’t afford to pay $200 each month for preventative care to keep this pain in check, I haven’t been able to get my acupuncture treatments, and the pain is returning. Our screwed up health system is to blame – they won’t cover alternative therapies but will pay for a hip surgery. Hell, they’ll pay for two, plus the resulting physical therapy – but they won’t pay for the preventative treatments that have kept me out of the operating room for two years. What kind of sense does that make??