Pro-Choice Legislation for Once

I was very pleased to learn that U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced the “21st Century Women’s Health Act” today! It is a bill intended to protect and expand access to reproductive health care.

Please contact your Senators and urge them to support this bill. It might not hurt to do the same with your Representative in the House. Hopefully, with enough public pressure, this bill might actually get passed!

source: Female Senators Introduce Pro-Choice Bill to “Fight Back Against Those Who Miss the ‘Mad Men’ Era”

 

Voter Lookup

Here’s the WordPress tool for looking up information about where to vote on or before election day: Tuesday, November 4th. I plan to vote at my local polling center that morning.

2014 Midterm Elections, Get Out The Vote!

WordPress.com News

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Since 2004, WordPress has set out with an ambitious goal in mind — to democratize publishing and put state-of-the-art tools in front of publishers both large and small across the planet. We believe strongly in this vision because when more people have access to powerful tools on the web, that in-turn empowers them to do great things and publish amazing content. We feel the same way when it comes to democratizing, well, democracy — and in just a few weeks, citizens across the United States will have a unique opportunity to flex their political muscle and vote in the 2014 Midterm Elections.

For our part, we want to provide our US-based users a set of resources to help them make a smart, informed decision when it comes to who they will vote for. We also want to provide a toolkit so that they can get more information on where to…

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Healthcare Headache

My health insurance finally paid their share of the bill for my first visit with Psychiatrist B, which occurred 7 months ago to the day.

When I learned of this, I decided to (finally) look into options so I’ll have health insurance after my current plan – which is dependent on my being a full-time student – expires. There is an option through my current company. When I called for a quote, the person I spoke to was very nice! She asked a few questions and suggested a plan that costs – wait for it … – $400 per month! This is marketed to students who are between leaving school and receiving health care coverage from their employer, mind.

I took a look at the information she sent me and became quite concerned. One of the criteria that prompted her to suggest this plan instead of a less-expensive option was my need for prescription coverage. When she told me the benefits, I thought they included prescription coverage. But when I looked at the explanation of what the plan covers, it explicitly excluded all prescription drugs – even generic! It also explicitly excludes mental/behavioral health care.

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I thought, there has got to be something better out there! I searched for “affordable health insurance” and found ehealthinsurance.com. Through that site I was able to find a plan with a different company that costs $320 per month. Their prescription coverage includes a $15 copay for generics and coverage of 50% of the cost of brand-name drugs up to a certain limit. They also cover 70% of mental/behavioral health care, up to a certain limit. Sounds pretty good.

Except that, according to their brochure, I might not be able to switch companies and I might have to wait to enroll within a specific range of dates and I might have to go several months without coverage. I have no idea whether I’ll be able to find a psychiatrist who is in-network for both companies. “Long-term care” is on the list of services they don’t cover – I have no idea whether that applies to me or not or even what it means in terms of practical considerations.

Worst, I read a customer review by someone who said coverage was denied for treatment of a “pre-existing condition,” and ze had to fight for what coverage ze did receive! WTF?! I wouldn’t care so much about health insurance if I didn’t have a “pre-existing condition” that (likely) requires inhumanely expensive medication to treat! And there’s the nagging voice in the back of my head asking, am I really saving any money if my health insurance costs over $300 per month? That’s before the copay for the doctor’s visit, the copay for (or half the cost of) the prescription medication, and 30% the cost of any additional (limited to a certain number of visits) mental/behavioral health care I receive.

But then, I’m reminded of the first time I used my school’s insurance to help pay for a prescription. Long story short, I literally saved $100 on that month’s supply of the generic drug. Add the doctor’s visit that finally got paid for ($250, minus the $25 copay) and I’ve already saved $5. Never mind if I do need to go to the hospital, etc. And preventative health care … I have yet to compare insurance coverage vs. going to a low-cost clinic (e.g. Planned Parenthood), but there’s a decent chance I’d be saving money there, too – especially since companies are increasingly required to cover preventative care at no cost to the patient.

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Oh, I just took a look on Planned Parenthood’s website, which has a link to HealthCare.gov. Starting October 1st, I’ll be able to search for low-cost insurance options there, with coverage to begin in January. Yay, Affordable Care Act!!! Why, oh why couldn’t you be fully implemented immediately?! (I’ll refrain from soapboxing about what healthcare should look like in the US – and still won’t, come 2014 – … at least for now.)

Anyways, I still haven’t decided what I’m going to do about health insurance from mid-August (when my current plan expires) to January (when coverage begins for any low-cost plan I manage to find on Healthcare.gov). But at least I have hope that paying through the nose for whatever plan I do find (or going without insurance, as millions of Americans do) will be a short-term solution.

What’s your experience with health insurance, particularly trying to find an affordable plan? Any suggestions? International readers, how does access to affordable health insurance in your country compare to what I’ve described here?

A Broken Promise

Around the time of the U.S. November 2012 election, congressional districts were rezoned. When I voted, it was for the congressman who had been my representative for as long as I could remember – and who seemed to do a decent job of representing my views and interests in the House.

But now I am being “represented” in the legislative branch of the federal government by a man I never voted for and didn’t have the opportunity to vote against. Last year, he was one of the people who blocked the Violence Against Women Act from being reauthorized for the first time since it passed in 1994. I’ve already written him an email expressing my disappointment that the bill isn’t even on the House agenda (two days after it passed 78-22 in the Senate) and urging him to support it.

Find and send an email to your Representative in the House.
AND/OR
Sign a petition urging House Republicans to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

I was overjoyed when I saw that one of today’s One Billion Rising events – scheduled for a time when I could make it! – was a protest outside my representative’s local office (a 45 minute drive – not bad). I RSVPed and was planning to go! I would add my voice – my actual voice, not just an email – to the demand that my representative co-sponsor and vote for the Violence Against Women Act. I might even help influence a powerful politician who doesn’t already agree with me!

But then my intestines revolted. I’ve gotten used to my bowel movements being loose, often even watery (the thought occurs that perhaps I should get that checked out, it’s been going on for a while. oh joys, another doctor visit! my insurance is going to hate me …) But I was surprised and overwhelmed by the intense fatigue I felt. It was close to the time I needed to leave to get to the protest on time, but I just had to lie down.

By the time I awoke, it was far too late for me to get to the protest on time. I might have been able to get there late, but I wasn’t sure how much I would have missed or whether being late would outright prevent me from participating. I was concerned about being arrested and/or injured. I still had homework hanging over my head, and felt guilty about the fact that I’ve been procrastinating – some things for a couple of days, others for weeks. Once I started doing some of my homework, I felt the anxiety melt away …

So, I was going to Rise, but I broke my promise. Was it legitimately because of a physical health constraint/need? Or was it because of anxiety? Is the latter any less of a legitimate reason? I certainly didn’t break my promise because I don’t care – I care about this issue very strongly. Still, I feel like a hypocrite when I speak out about these things, trying to encourage others to participate, then back out of participating myself at the last minute. It’s become a bad habit, to be honest.

I feel constrained, limited. powerless.

worthless …

I think the thing keeping me from Rising is my anxiety, my insecurity. I could overcome the physical symptoms if I really wanted to. But the emotional? If I worked really hard, I could probably overcome them too. Maybe I need to push myself more. I could have found out more information about the event, so I would have had a better idea of what to expect; that would have eased some of the anxiety.

And maybe I also need to be a little more forgiving of myself. In this case, there are other ways to Rise that don’t require one to be physically present in a particular location. The One Billion Rising website offers ways to participate online, for people who can’t join the physical/in-person events for some reason. I can utilize them.