Man waiting in the waiting room of a doctor's office

Having IBS and Horrible Health Insurance

In a previous article, I shared that over the past few years I stopped seeing doctors and medical professionals regularly regarding my IBS, which may seem like I’m content with my condition as it is today. However, I am far from content with my IBS, and I wish I could get more medical care and attention but there are several reasons why I haven’t. Among the reasons as to why, a big one was because I couldn’t (and still can’t) afford good quality health insurance. In fact, I am now on Medicaid because I am self-employed and don’t earn enough to pay for private health insurance. Aside from the regular routine checkups or extreme-emergency room visits, I don’t see a doctor otherwise because if I do, I’ll be paying for it for months after.

There are days that my IBS pain gets so bad that I truly become scared for my life, and I feel at that moment I should consult a doctor or a specialist. However, I quickly get reminded of my horrible health insurance, the bills and debt that I have incurred in the past because of it, and soon after I convince myself to tolerate the gruesome pain and wait it out. If the pain is way too severe and has longevity, then I will make my way to a doctor. But then again, I suffer from IBS, so the pain is ­always there. On days like this I just maintain hope that the pain becomes tolerable enough that I can get some rest and eventually calm down. After several days like this, I have become used to the constant pain as my reality and feel as though there isn’t much a doctor could do for me about it anyway.

Proper support

Since I started using Medicaid a few years ago, I noticed that it takes even longer for me to see a doctor than it used to when I had private health insurance. For example, I had a number of occasions when I made an appointment regarding my IBS, but I had to wait anywhere between three weeks and two months to see a specialist. Imagine the pain and anxiety that one endures while waiting to see if what they’re going through is life-threatening or not. However, when I was able to afford private health insurance, I was able to see a doctor right away. It didn’t take me weeks or months to see one like it does now with my Medicaid insurance. Also, with the private health insurance, if I had a concern and wanted a certain test or procedure done back then, the doctors would at least take me a little more serious than they do now.

With my current insurance, I feel I don’t get the proper support I need. I’ve had doctors telling me to take prescribed medication or fiber supplements and to continue with my current way of life, as opposed to having a doctor who will advocate for me when I need to make a lifestyle change that requires their advocacy and commitment. In other words, if I wanted to apply for disability, then I’d be on the stand alone in front of a judge with no professional or medical support, possibly and simply because I couldn’t afford their service. Also, for the record, I have tried the prescribed meds and fiber supplements that doctors recommended in the past, and they only made my symptoms worse.

I'm human, too

It’s unfortunate that the quality of medical care I receive depends on the amount of money I make, and is not dependent on the sole fact that I’m a human-being. It’s like I have to interview doctors like a CEO interviewing a new applicant – it usually takes a while to find the right candidate who can do the job right. And by doing the job “right”, I mean a medical doctor who truly listens to the patient’s concerns and complaints, and takes them into consideration with a sense of empathy. I’m also looking for a doctor that takes more of a holistic approach to treating my condition than just prescribing medication to me. Am I asking for too much? All I want is the doctor to be HUMAN. It’s like they've become robots after medical school and just treat people like members of a group as opposed to unique individuals. Unfortunately, however, when I finally get that “high-quality” insurance and extra money in my pocket, that’ll probably be the only way I can get a doctor to really listen.

I know not all IBS sufferers can relate to my situation because, let’s be honest, not everyone has horrible health insurance like I do. I don’t expect everyone to share my perspective, but nonetheless, this is still my truth, and the reality for many others as well, whether they suffer from a debilitating illness or not. I’m not saying all doctors are money-hungry and lack empathy. I just have yet to come across one that can truly treat me with humane respect while also taking my health concerns seriously. Again, I’m just speaking my truth and I wanted to share this information because it goes to show the struggles that people in different situations must face when it comes to seeking medical help and support for our condition.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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