Sunday, February 3, 2013

Plan B Vending Machines

Had unprotected sex and need emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy? There's a vending machine for that.

Want to plan in advance to obtain the most effective form of regular birth control BEFORE having sex? Here's what you need to do:

1. Find an Ob/Gyn in your area who is covered under your health insurance plan. 

*Don't have health insurance? Just go to Planned Parenthood! Oh wait, they don't have state funding anymore. You can skip the rest of this. You're obviously not having sex and would never be affected by an unplanned pregnancy.

2. Call your local Ob/Gyn office to schedule an appointment. They will say "Sure, we have appointments available any day this week, including Saturdays!!"  HAHAHA just kidding.  If you call December 3rd hoping to get an appointment during your Christmas vacation time, they will tell you the first available appointment is January 31st (actually happened to me, in case you couldn't tell).

3. Crap. Your birth control prescription for last year is going to run out before your next appointment. Call office. Get transferred to two different people. Beg them to refill it for 1 more month so you don't run out.

4. Pick up temporary prescription at local pharmacy.

5. Appointment Day! (almost 60 days later)

6. Make sure you tell your boss in advance you need to take time off work to go to the doctor. If you don't have paid sick time at your job (which 40% of American private sector workers do not), enjoy your half a day of lost income.

7. Drive to Doctor' office. Fill out lots of paperwork. Wait about 30-60 minutes. 

8. Finally get called in. A couple minutes of chit chat. Then it's time to put on the paper towel gown and submit to an invasive pap smear (to test for cervical cancer) in order to get your pills. 

9. If you're gutsy, maybe you can speak up and say something like "Hey, Doc! I've read that a yearly pap smear isn't really necessary for a lot of women if they've had 3 or more normal results in a row."

Agencies that support this include: U.S Preventive Services Task Force, American Cancer Society, American Society of Clinical Pathology, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and The Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement.

10. The doc will look at your chart and say, "You're absolutely right! You have had several normal results and are at low risk for cervical cancer. We can skip this invasive procedure and just do the exam portion!."  HAHAHA just kidding. The actual answer is, "We have to do this for liability reasons.  It's your choice of course, but I will hold your birth control pills hostage if you do not get this test done."

11. And... you're good for another year. In years past, you would have to pay an insurance co-pay for this lovely visit, but thanks to Obamacare that is no longer the case. This would be cool I guess, if there wasn't recently a payroll tax increase (or "reversal of tax cut extension" whatev) that cut your yearly income by $1,200.00.

*Some additional things to note:

1. I don't think testing for cervical cancer is bad. I just don't like the "You have to get this unrelated test done or we can't prescribe your birth control" attitude. It is patronizing, and we do not do this for other types of medication. 

"Hi sir, I'd really like to give you this flu medication, but I see here that you haven't had your annual colonoscopy."  Yeah... no.

2. I can be annoyed at the payroll tax increase and still support the general ideas of Obamacare. It's just that I would be a lot LESS annoyed about increased taxes if I didn't ALSO pay hundreds of dollars a month for health insurance.

3. I am not totally against the emergency contraception vending machine idea (my main reservation would be that people who are unable to get regular birth control, which has MUCH lower doses of hormones, would be tempted to use emergency birth control on a regular basis. Which it's not intended for).

4. This might put me in the "fuddy-duddy" category, but if you're too embarrassed to talk to your school's nurse or a local pharmacist (providing your local pharmacist isn't a religious crackpot) about birth control, then you're not mature enough to have sex.

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