My doctor is not my boyfriend
American politicians and voters, the world still turns when you switch doctors
The first time I saw my “new” primary care physician a few years ago, I did a double take. He walked in the room, neatly dressed and sanitizing his hands, and the first thought in my mind was, “Yo, Nev is about to see my mediocre bra.” This guy could easily be the doppelganger for Nev Schulman from MTV’s “Catfish.” It weirded me out, but I tried to be quiet about it.
However, in the middle of him asking me some very important health questions, I just interrupted him and went, “Have you ever seen ‘Catfish’?” And he laughed and mentioned that was the third time someone had asked him that in a matter of months. (“Catfish” released in 2012, and it was that same year that I randomly chose him to be my new PCP.) I was not alone. Although he claimed Nev was way more handsome than he was, in my mind I’m thinking, “No he ain’t! You are finer!”
Shortly after, I had the exam and went home. Minus a few inbox exchanges through the company hospital messaging system, I never talked to my doctor until a year later, when I returned for another annual exam. We cracked jokes, and we’ve talked about jobs, vacations and a couple of my exes over the years.
He’s an absolutely friendly and professional PCP and gynecologist to visit— once a year. But as cool as I find my doctor, he is not my boyfriend. And I really wish some Americans and American politicians would get that through their heads. I like my doctor, but he’s not someone I’d lose sleep or food over if we parted ways forever.
How a job layoff makes you put health insurance into perspective
After a layoff that left more than 750-plus journalists, photographers, editors and more out of a job at one of my previous employers, my main concern was health insurance. I’m a stickler for a six-month dental cleaning, annual physicals and a year’s worth of contacts. And I have my favorite doctors, dentists and optometrists that I’ve been visiting for years. But when I signed up for the Affordable Care Act during that layoff, I realized I would pay far more to see the same doctor. I did it anyway.
Fast forward six years, and me voluntarily throwing in the towel at a different publishing job, and I realized I had an important decision to make. By reapplying for ACA and wanting a similar health budget plan, I had to choose between keeping my doctor and paying a far more expensive rate versus keeping my dentist for a much cheaper rate. I chose the latter. And I haven’t seen my “Catfish” doctor since February of 2018 — exactly six years after I met him. Guess what? I’m surviving.
Why Americans need to approach health insurance like “Sicko”
In the past four Democratic debates, I’ve listened to politicians debate the “Medicare for All” stance. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren seem to be the strongest contenders for expanding health insurance. (Yes, of course we all know former Vice President Joe Biden worked with former President Barack H. Obama for ACA. And I know there are mixed opinions on the final ACA decision that did not expand to enough financially challenged families, but I’m speaking on improvements to it for the purpose of this post.)
If you’ve never seen Michael Moore’s 2007 documentary “Sicko,” I strongly suggest watching it. Just the idea that American surgeons will negotiate something as vital as re-attaching a finger while our neighbors up north (Canada) will take care of your whole hand for a cheaper rate doesn’t sit well with me.
When I hear people debate about losing their beloved doctors, I wonder are they giving other doctors a chance. And even with their favorite PCPs, do they know what this doctor (or specialist) will and won’t cover under current health insurance?
Would I much rather keep my “Catfish” doctor? Absolutely. But he is not up sleepless nights worrying about why I haven’t been to his office in almost two years. You want to know why? Because it’s business, not personal. I don’t expect my dentists, optometrists or doctors to take it personal if I switch providers or health insurance companies. They’re fully aware of how health insurance works.
You can find another stethoscope in your life. Please stop fighting harder to keep your doctor than you do your own mutual relationships — boyfriends, girlfriends, friends with benefits, spouses, etc.
I left two different jobs and have had at least three different health insurance companies. I’ve switched from preferred provider organization (PPO) to health maintenance organization (HMO). And life went on. When we go to the polls to vote for our next presidential candidate — along with the other 49,000 state and municipal elections happening in 34 states this year — keep that mantra in mind. It’s business, not personal. You will find another doctor under other health insurance plans. You can find another stethoscope in your life. Please stop fighting harder to keep your doctor than you do your own mutual relationships — boyfriends, girlfriends, friends with benefits, spouses, etc. You should be more concerned with everybody having access to health insurance at all.
Businesses can voluntarily terminate your employment and/or you can choose to quit. And you still have to find new health insurance. Your own doctor more than likely will not financially support your health expenses for free if you leave that job. (S)he wants to be paid, too. You know why? Because this person is your doctor, not your boyfriend.