I have spent the past 6 years without medical insurance.
During these 6 years, I have limited my visits to health care providers to the minimum necessity, which have included one (scary) breast cancer screening recommended by my gynaecologist, 3 pap smears, one eye examination, two visits to the dentist.
Without coverage, I had to pay for these out of my pocket, but there is one thing I could never afford during those years: contraception.
My partner of 7 years and I have been using condoms for 6 long years. Condoms are a very safe form of contraception when used properly, but anyone in a long-term monogamous heterosexual relationship knows that this is not the most pleasant way to avoid pregnancies. During all these years, we faced two potential contraception failures after which I had to run to the pharmacy to obtain Pan B. That was $42 a pop.
Last November, I was finally financially stable enough, so I did some research and found the one and only somewhat affordable insurance that would cover me while I travel and for the rare times I am at home. For the modest price of $450 per month, I could: break a leg in New Zealand, get a blood transfusion in Austria, get cancer treatment in the US, give birth in Russia, etc.
This all looked great, except for the “maternity package”. I knew that I would not need it, so I proceeded to call the insurance company to try to swap it for dental or optical care. When I was told that it was not possible for me to change anything to their offer and that I would have to pay for the “maternity package” even though it would not be needed, I had a hunch that I should dig deep into their contraception coverage.
None of it was covered. No pill, no IUD, no implant, no Plan B.
I could get pregnant, get all the care I needed, and be covered for the birth and other medical interventions related to the pregnancy, but nothing was available for me to avoid getting pregnant. Not only that but abortions were not covered either.
I think it would be quite accurate to say that every woman has experienced a feeling of complete terror at the idea of their hard-earned contraception to fail (no contraception is 100% effective) and having to pay for a very expensive termination — especially abroad. That’s a worry and a burden every sexually-active woman must carry on her shoulder.
After insisting on obtaining more information and explaining my disagreement with its policy, the insurance company told me that I could send the receipts from the purchase of condoms and would get reimbursed. That was better than nothing.
Believe me when I say that I will splurge on fancy strawberry-flavoured ribbed-for-her-pleasure condoms this year.