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Monday, August 22, 2005 

Ameliorate

About a month or two ago, Britain recently scored higher than America on some study ranking a county’s treatment of women (based on criteria such as access to healthcare and childcare, relative pay scales, maternity and paternity leave, reproductive education and freedoms, etc.) This came as absolutely no surprise to me, and I’ll state a particular example that has made my life undeniably easier upon moving here: getting my damn birth control pills.

In the UK I:
1. Make an appointment to see a nurse (at college healthcare centre). Usually can get seen next day. (1)
2. See nurse for five minutes after waiting five minutes. Get subscription for 6 months. Cost: £0
3. Go to pharmacy. Get prescription filled (never had to wait more than five minutes for this. Maybe am just lucky as surely this is not normal?) Get six months worth of pills at once. Cost: £0.

Total time for one year: 20 minutes. Total cost: £0.

In the US I:
1. Get job and join HMO. Cost: $17 a pay period. (2)
2. Make appointment to see doctor. At least a month in advance.
3. Go to see doctor. Wait at least 20 minutes in waiting room despite time of appointment or time arrived to see doctor. Wait at least another ten minutes after changing into half naked state in examination room. See doctor for ten minutes of exam and chit chat. Get subscription for one year. Cost: $10 co-pay.
4. Go to pharmacy. Only allowed to get one month of pills once per month. Wait never less than half an hour. Cost: $30. (3)
5. Repeat step 4 once a month for twelve months.

Total time for one year: at least 7 hours. Total cost: $768

(Footnotes:
1. I know it’s probably much more difficult when seeing your local GP instead of the uni nurses, but from what I understand the prices would be the same.

2. In the five years I was at the mercy of that HMO I only saw my regular GP twice for regular checkups, I was never sick more than the sniffles, and never went to the ER; however I saw my gynecologist repeatedly so I do consider that $34 a month almost strictly for the privilege of seeing that particular doctor.

3. I don’t know if it was this particular HMO or America in general that will not allow women to obtain more than one month’s supply of pills at a time, but I’m sure it has something to do with the Conservative Christians desire to limit women’s access to reproductive healthcare and therefore force them to be less likely to use it properly and eventually not at all, hereby putting procreation back in the hands of God where it rightly belongs.)

I do not know if anyone who reads this blog has gotten the gist of it, so I’ll spell it out for you: I love it here.

I don't have health insurance at the moment, only get the cheap student health insurance that my college does...so I'm all for socialized medicine when I move to the UK. Woohoo.

*tapping foot* And just exactly what do you need birth control pills for, young lady??

Busted!

Mum, she's been wondering that herself, but for Monica, hope springs eternal. :D

I go to college in the US and the doctor gives me a 6 month supply at once. The yearly cost for the pills is about $100. So it was still cheaper over there, but I don't think it is the same everywhere here. When I wasn't at college I would only get one a month for $34 each.

Almost certainly a college thing - you have to pay for all prescriptions normally (unless you're on welfare, under 18 or in some other special group), and have to wait to see a doctor too.

Now for the other side of that coin: Once upon a time, I needed a CT scan. No problem: I was offered a "free" appointment for it sometime in 2002. The problem? I was offered it in 1998. Still, it could have been worse: I could have needed an MRI, which wasn't available at all...

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