Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dreading the Doctor

I know, dread is a pretty strong word, so you can pick from nervous, edgy, tense, anxious, worried, or apprehensive.


In three weeks, I have my first real doctor’s appointment for the first time in 5 years.

That’s half a freaking decade <gulp>

The past couple of years haven’t been kind financially. 
·        In grad school (‘06-08), I had health insurance but I could only afford to use it for birth control.

·        While adjuncting (’08-10), I didn’t qualify for insurance, so I simply went without. I kept track of my blood pressure at Walmart, got a free blood test in 2010, had regularly massages, and prayed I would never have to go near an emergency room.

·        This past year, I have insurance again but haven’t felt comfortable using it beyond a few urgent care visits. With our income bouncing around, it’s impossible to budget for medical bills, so my attitude has been to just not accumulate any.

This, of course, is not a good path and I’ve been fully aware of it as the years have ticked by. I know the best approach to your health is the preventative one, and routine appointments are a part of that.

Since we moved, we’ve been holding out for my appointments until our income became stable. 15 months later and no relief in sight, it’s time to throw in the towel and just bite the bullet.

There’s a lot to complain about modern medicine, which I’ll leave to the more passionate, but my biggest beef is the complete inability to know what the hell you will be paying.

There is no budgeting, no comparison shopping, no price checking to know what you are getting into.

In an ideal world, going to the doctor would be like strolling into McDonald’s – all of your options are listed right out in the open with a clearly marked price.

The irony of using McDonalds when talking about heath is not lost ... (source)
Instead, it’s just a guessing game of how much you’ll be charge (and goodness knows when you’ll get the bill – they can wait three months to process it and then want the money in two weeks, but I digress).

Without knowing how much I could rack up at the doctor’s, I’m nervous. 5 years without proper care means I have a backlog of tests that should be run (and a few that I’m specifically requesting).
Not to mention I haven’t had a single shot since I graduated high school in 2002 and there are a few that I really should have current (my thoughts on vaccines to be documented later …).

Furthermore, I am terrified, yes, terrified, of what they could find.  I may be young, but I have a host of factors working against me – inactive lifestyle, constant stress, don’t eat enough fruits/veggies, overweight, and a family history of high blood pressure/heart disease.

Maybe I’ll get lucky and get a clean bill of health, but after so many years of poor habits and infrequent health screenings, well, the odds are not in my favor.

And the thing that really gets to me, is that whatever they might find, chances are it will be my fault I got it.  Something that was a result of my inattention to my body. 

Don't look kid - it will only makes it worse! (source)
Then I have secondary concerns about whether this new doctor will be a good match for me, will she listen to my concerns, will she explain things properly or just brush me off, will she treat me as a person or just isolate my problems … the list goes on.   

In my past, I had some serious trust issues with doctors – some from my childhood, others stemming for a bad surgery.  I had to actively work through those so I wouldn’t have panic attacks before appointments.  I’m glad I no longer fear doctors, I just fear the resulting bill.

Questions – Do you experience similar concerns about medical bills? 


  1. Holy crap yes! Honestly, once we both get real jobs and even health insurance, one of the main things stopping us from having kids is the INSANE cost of having a baby in a hospital, even if nothing goes wrong and I don't need any intervention.

  2. No doubt, kids are expensive. I know a lot of my friends have curbed their count or delayed just so they could really afford them.

  3. My very favorite part with medical bills is the absoute lack of details! Oh it makes me so incredibly giddy to look at a bill that has no information other than "you owe: $457.63" I jump up and down for joy that they don't tell me that it's for nurses checking on me, or pain pills, or floor scrubbing, or toilet paper.

    I wish the phone company would do the same thing. All of those pesky charges clearly laid out so I know where my money is going is really just a huge pain in the ass. /sarcasm