I don’t have health insurance. Last September, I made the decision to leave my Human Resources position –“willfully canned” as I like to call it — and sign on as a personal assistant to a well-known poet. And even though I work over 30 hours a week, she can’t offer me benefits (unless you consider my sneaking ginseng and Vitamin D from her kitchen counter health insurance).
New York City is dangerous and I’m poor. That means I’ve had to curtail certain behavior, behavior that seemed worth some degree of risk when the only thing standing between me and an iron lung was a co-pay. Gone are the days of leaning over the tracks to make the train come faster, or walking barefoot through construction sites. I can’t even eat Pan Con Tomate and pretend I’m in Barcelona, because God forbid I get salmonella, and it spreads to my bloodstream, and I have to eHow “Intravenous Drip : Homemade.”
But even though I bike with a helmet, and steer clear of public sandboxes, and don’t pet pigeons, I still need an annual gynecological check-up. I’m one of the millions of women who, because of an abnormal pap, has to routinely submit to a colposcopy. When you schedule one, the admin will call it a “Col-po” for short, because that way it sounds less like a microscope in your vagina and more like an alternative British rock band.
Basically, your gynecologist dabs vinegar on your cervix and then uses the colposcope to shine a light inside to look for abnormal changes, which appear as white areas. I would hazard this procedure isn’t fun for either party, but for ten minutes of fancy flashlight work, I’d rather be the one shining than shelling out $600.
For the price of my one-time visit, I could buy a colposcope. I know, because I looked on eBay. The Colposcope Leisegang, made in West Germany and shipped from South Africa, costs $499 and features “binocular type nice.” I have some Heinz white vinegar in my pantry and a boyfriend with free time. I’m just saying.
In all seriousness, I’m fine, and adamant about annual check-ups. I can get on a high horse about it (there’s a stirrups joke in there somewhere). But I’m not sure why a Col-Po should cost $600, or a cervical biopsy $1200, or why chlamydia and gonorrhea screenings are billed separately at $75 each. Is there really $75 worth of additional labor and scientific equipment involved in analyzing the same culture of bodily fluid, especially when you’ve already shelled out $175 (no insurance, remember) just to see the gynecologist? It’s pricey to have a comprehensive check-up.
A nucleic acid hybridization test sounds complicated and thus justifiably expensive, like it should at least involve protective goggles and vapors, but really it’s just a simple swabbing. Same with an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. I’m studying the bill for my annual right now, and it looks like I paid $83.00 bucks — that’s a slow shift’s wages at the bar — for a Surepath W/Reflex. A what?
My friend Judd stopped by the bar today and we got on the subject of the American Girl store , as we often do, and he told me about the Doll Hospital. The what?
If Josefina’s 19th century Mexican braid were to get caught in the rancho blender and she were to lose her head, you could fill out a form, mail it in, and within three weeks, have a healthy Josefina returned home, in a hospital gown (does she wear it over or under her saddlebag?), with a get-well balloon and a band-aid sticker.
The admittance form is shockingly awesome in its unrealistic portrayal of American health care. For a mere $24, Josefina can get eye replacement. Same price for reattachment of limbs. And for an unheard of $39, she can receive an entire new body.
There in an interesting restriction on head replacement. For such a low low price, Josefina can’t upgrade, say, to Girl of the Year Mia’s skate braid.
I searched and searched, but nowhere could I find OBGYN on the form. Maybe it’s included in torso replacement?
(I’m not sure what’s happening around 1:36.)