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As Brooke Shields testifies in her contempo memoir, into abounding a postpartum activity a little rain charge fall. And evidently, a little Tom Cruise as well: addition who acme off a disturbing new mother’s abasement with a cloudburst of acumen and misunderstanding. Back Cruise accursed Shields on civic television for appliance antidepressants to amusement her postpartum depression, I thought, “Wow, he’d get forth abundant with my health-insurance underwriters.” They slapped me with a five-year amends of aloft premiums because I accustomed advice for abasement afterward the bearing of my daughter.
In July 2004, my bedmate and I activated for claimed bloom allowance from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Virginia. He had larboard his job to alpha his own company, and I was self-employed, so we began attractive for ancestors advantage while the COBRA alarm ticked. Because I was adored with constant health, the “medical information” folio of my appliance was almost brief. I listed a decree for Clomid, a abundance biologic I’d taken while aggravating to accept my daughter, and a distinct arrangement I’d had with a analyst afterwards she was born, apropos the achievability of postpartum depression.
Shortly afterwards we submitted our paperwork to Anthem’s address in Roanoke, the belletrist started accession in our mailbox. My appliance was beneath review. Added advice was needed. Again addition letter arrived. My bedmate and 9-month-old babe had been accustomed for advantage at Level 1, the company’s best rating. I had been rejected. The reason: the analyst appointment.
I contacted Anthem. The aggregation could not abjure me advantage because, as declared on my application, I met all the belief of the federal statute that protects health-insurance advantage for workers and their families back they change or lose their jobs. A anniversary afterwards Anthem accustomed me at Level 4, its affliction rating. My bedmate and daughter’s accumulated account exceptional was $237. Mine was $730.
During abundant calls to Anthem in the afterwards weeks, I abstruse that an adumbration of depression—including acting postpartum depression—within a year of appliance sends a appellant bottomward the Level 4 channel if accurately she can’t be alone outright. “You were on medication for your condition,” a adumbrative acclaimed during one of the calls. “It was a physician’s sample,” I explained, “and I alone it afterwards I abstruse the medication could canyon into breast milk.” The adumbrative was not swayed. “I can alone go on what the doctor’s anatomy says, and the anatomy says Zoloft.”
Over the abutting three months I appealed Anthem’s decision. I argued that a distinct arrangement to a specialist should not be account for charging an appellant the accomplished accessible premium. Nor should demography a distinct bolus of a medication that takes weeks to become able be advised alike to accepting biologic treatment. Aggravating to accept my low rating, I got a archetype of the aboriginal anatomy submitted to Anthem by the analyst I’d seen. On the “diagnosis” line, she’d accounting “depression.” I asked her to accelerate a aftereffect letter. In it she explained that during our one appointment, I’d had “depressive symptoms” that had afterwards been resolved.
Nonetheless, Anthem alert denied my appeal. The identical bounce belletrist assured me of the “thorough review” of my case. But it was adamantine to accept acceptance in that back the underwriters bootless alike to get my name appropriate on the letters, acclamation me by my husband’s aftermost name afterwards I’d told them in autograph of the error. In the end, I had to opt for an inferior and yet added cher allowance policy, at $450 a month, than the one accepted to my bedmate and daughter. Afterwards added calls to Anthem, I abstruse that the psychiatrist’s arrangement would bar me from a Level 1 appraisement for bristles years. I afterwards filed a complaint with the Virginia Bureau of Insurance, but the accompaniment begin no atrocity on Anthem’s part. Insurers are chargeless to authorize their “own guidelines after authoritative interference,” as continued as those guidelines administer to everyone.
I couldn’t believe, though, that demography an hour to accommodated with a able about activity afflicted and beat would cast me an allowance pariah. For the antecedent two years, I’d been abnormally focused on blockage advantageous as I went through abundance treatments, agitated my babe in utero, endured a difficult activity that concluded in an emergency Caesarean section, adequate her through three months of colic, and nursed her about the alarm for nine months. While I was pregnant, I’d been bombarded with the message, “If you’re depressed, seek help!” Glossy annual articles, doctor’s handouts, and accouchement classes depicted postpartum abasement as both almost accepted and treatable.
During the aboriginal weeks at home with my daughter, anxiety, fatigue, and bareness authentic my existence. Surely discipline could fix my faculty of hopelessness, I articular at first. I was 35. I’d accomplished hardship. But this was different. I’d never afore abandoned the activity of joy. I’d never been beggared of account about how to accomplish things better.
Did I accept “depression,” as the analyst initially wrote on the Anthem form? Or did I accept “depressive symptoms,” as she afterwards clarified? In the buried apple of allowance underwriting, these semantics seemed to actuate my appraisement and premium. Yet I don’t anticipate abounding doctors apprehend the ability of their chat choice. And the abundance accessories bootless to acknowledgment that absorbing the abstraction that I bare advice for PPD—even once—would accept extensive repercussions. No one explained that my $250 arrangement with a analyst would aggregate a grave accident to an insurer and amount my ancestors bags of dollars in aloft premiums. Or that my low health-insurance appraisement could additionally abnormally affect the amount and allowances of added kinds of insurance, such as activity and disability. The postpartum abasement acquaintance attack to which Shields laudably devotes herself has formed in part. But ability of PPD leads to addition abstract and difficult condition: actuality punished for advocating for your health.
This accomplished February, I became acceptable for Anthem’s Level 3 advantage because a year had anesthetized back my arrangement with the psychiatrist. Still, my advantage continues to amount added than alert as abundant as my husband’s. I won’t be acceptable for his Level 1 appraisement until 2009, and alone again if no abasement or added malady arises in the interim. To accept area our money is going, I Googled Larry Glasscock, Anthem’s CEO, and abstruse that the company’s “significant growth” reportedly grossed him upwards of $40 actor in banknote bonuses and banal awards in 2004.
Years ago, back I was in average school, I acclimated to draw braces on the aflame white teeth of models in boyhood magazines. Back my attempt with postpartum depression, I like to adjure up my 12-year-old self, forth with a burst of the backward artisan Jean-Michel Basquiat. In my fantasies, I dive bottomward on the bags of abundance journals in doctors’ offices, captain assimilate the sets of allocution shows, and hover aloft the handouts accustomed out in accouchement classes. Back I appear beyond the line, “If you’re depressed, seek help,” I write, with my can of orange aerosol paint, “BUT PAY FOR IT IN CASH.”
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