Health

My Hysterectomy Horror Story Is Why It Should Be Called ‘TrumpDoesn’tCare’

My state ‘opted out’ of the only affordable insurance plan (and if the GOP health care bill passes, yours might too). by Jonna Ivin

July 12, 2017

There’s nothing particularly unique or shocking about me getting a hysterectomy. Women get them all the time, for many different reasons. But I believe the manner in which my surgery is taking place — given that I am one of millions of Americans without insurance — needs to be shared.

In January 2017, I went through the process of signing up for ObamaCare (ACA). After putting in my financial information, I reached the end, where there were two apparently conflicting statements:

1. You qualify for Medicaid.
2. The State (Kansas) you live in opted out of the Medicaid expansion offered by the ACA.

Under that was a listing of the free-market insurance plans I had “access” to. The average cost was $600 a month. Let that sink in. My income is so low I qualify for Medicaid, but since the Republicans in control of Kansas opted out of Medicaid expansion, they are offering me in return “access” to $600-a-month insurance plans. My response, in short, was: What. The. Ever. Loving. Fuck?

Like most poor people, I can’t afford pride.

When I started to show symptoms (and, no, I'm not getting into details) that something was wrong, I went on the internet and started looking for some sort of option for me. I found a Federal program called Early Detection Works for breast cancer and cervical cancer screening. I called the number, gave my financial information, and qualified. I was sent to a clinic here in Wichita called Grace Med. After my exam, the nurse recommended I get an ultrasound.

But there was a problem: Early Detection Works doesn’t cover the cost of an ultrasound. I suppose it should be called “Early Detection Lets You Know There Is A Problem Then Lets You Sit And Stew With That Information.” (Not as catchy of a title, I know.)

I didn’t know what to do, so I contacted the hospital where I was scheduled to receive the ultrasound and was simply honest. I got lucky and connected with an extremely helpful woman in their financial aid department, who took all my financial information. In a few days, she called me back to tell me the hospital would cover the costs under their low-income program.

The results of my ultrasound came back and showed abnormalities, so I was back on the internet searching for options. I found a local program in Wichita called Project Access/Central Plains Healthcare, a charity for people without insurance. (If you’d like to donate to it, you can do so here.) After filling out the forms and once again relaying my financial history – which was embarrassing, but like most poor people, I can’t afford pride — I was accepted and referred to an OB/GYN named Dr. Hershberger. It was a random selection. Participants don’t choose the assigned doctor. It’s just who happens to be the next volunteer on the list.

Maybe it should be called ‘Early Detection Lets You Know There Is A Problem Then Lets You Sit And Stew With That Information.’

Once again, I was extremely lucky. My physician, who works with the Heartland Women's Group of Wichita, Kansas, turned out to be amazing. He listens. He pays attention. He explains everything. And, more importantly, he was willing to perform a hysterectomy for me at no cost. All of the doctors, nurses, staff, and hospitals working with this organization volunteer their time and facilities at no charge. That’s incredible — and at the same time, horribly sad. (Or, to paraphrase Trump, “Sad!”)

These wonderful doctors and nurses have to work harder, longer hours and pick up the slack for a government that is failing miserably. Now the politicians want to take away even more health care benefits. If “TrumpDoesn’tCare,” as I like to call it, passes, we’ll be seeing more and more citizens relying on charity or simply dying from preventable illnesses. All because there are politicians who care more about the wishes of the rich than the lives of the poor. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Paul Ryan.) This time, it was me taking months to track down a charity in order to get necessary medical attention. Next time, it might be you or someone you love.

Doctors and nurses have to work harder to pick up the slack for a government that is failing miserably.

Pharmaceutical and insurance companies are earning billions off American citizens being sick. The politicians who accept campaign contributions from these industries are doing everything they can to ensure the wealthiest billionaires, including the Trump family, keep their wealth, while the poor working and middle classes get less and less. This should disgust everyone, and I’m not sure why it doesn’t.

The GOP has announced that it will be pushing the latest health care bill through the Senate soon. But Republicans aren’t pushing through a health care plan — depending on what happens with proposed tax cuts in the bill, they may actually be pushing through a “tax care” plan for the wealthiest select few at the top. The people who will ultimately suffer under this will be regular working class people, your loved ones, your family, friends, your neighbors.

After my surgery, I’ll recover, and I’ll be fine simply because I got lucky. But eventually luck runs out and action has to take place. Please do everything you can to fight this awful bill.

Prior to her surgery, which took place at Wesley Medical Center on June 30, author and editor Jonna Ivin posted an earlier version of the above message on Facebook. As of publication, she is in recovery and healing well. The original message has been edited for clarity, editorial consistency, and accuracy.

Image by Shannon Fagan/Getty Images.

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