Insurers Can Send Patients To Religious Hospitals That Restrict Reproductive Care

Aug 2, 2018

By Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux and Anna Maria Barry-Jester

Last fall, about a month before her Medicaid coverage was scheduled to expire, Darolyn Lee realized that she needed to get her contraceptive implant replaced. Lee, a 37-year-old in Chicago, called the managed care organization in charge of her plan to find out where she should go to get the new implant. She was told that the closest in-network provider was Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, a Catholic hospital about 30 minutes away by bus.

When she got to the hospital for her appointment, the doctor said she couldn’t replace Lee’s birth control, but wouldn’t say why. Instead, she gave Lee a referral card for the hospital’s obstetrics and gynecology department. Lee, assuming that hospital bureaucracy was to blame, made another appointment and returned to the hospital a few weeks later. But when the second doctor walked into the room, she explained that she, too, could not replace the implant. She offered Lee a pap smear instead.

Lee was stunned and angry. Through tears, she asked where she could get her implant replaced. The gynecologist gave her a referral for the county hospital. “I couldn’t say nothing else — I was just upset,” Lee said. “They had wasted my time going to all of these appointments, only to not do anything that I had requested.”

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6 comments on “Insurers Can Send Patients To Religious Hospitals That Restrict Reproductive Care

  • There should be no religious hospitals-particularly since no religion pays more than a few percentage points of the cost of running any hospital. Why are the religious allowed to have any effect on policy and treatment at all?



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  • @OP- The gynecologist gave her a referral for the county hospital. “I couldn’t say nothing else — I was just upset,” Lee said. “They had wasted my time going to all of these appointments, only to not do anything that I had requested.”

    That is the insidious nature of the interfering religiously deluded, when defending their dogmas and asserting their “right” to interfere in other people’s lives!

    I do hope she wrote a strong letter to her insurers suggesting they pay compensation for wasting her time, and causing distress – along with the suggestion that they do not refer any other patients to this hospital for the contraceptive services or gynaecology they don’t provide!

    Changing insurers or threatening to change insurers, if they fail to do so, would also be an option.



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  • Alan

    Writing letters to insurance companies in America seems, from our perspective here, to be a colossal waste of time, paper and ink. Not only will they snivel and sneer at our rational claims, they have proven themselves impervious to any feelings of justice, benevolence and empathy. To be blunt, they don’t care if their clients suffer and even die. I strongly suspect that even after a lifetime of expensive payments made by the client, when catastrophic illness ensues, the insurance company would gleefully cancel their policy just when they need it the most. Patient death would be preferable in the American health insurance business model for maximum profit. Obamacare has blocked their ability to carry out this disgusting unethical practice. Save the ink and paper for more effective usage.

    Changing insurers or threatening to do so used to be impossible. As soon as the insurance company got wind of pre-existing conditions they would refuse to take the client on. An attempt at switching around could leave one with no insurance at all. This was also addressed with Obamacare.

    Those of you who live in a country with universal health care must have no idea of what a frightening situation we have here, especially pre-Obamacare and the insecurity we face at the mere thought of falling ill. Bankruptcy due to medical expenses is a very real possibility.

    Insurance companies also control which facilities and doctors their clients can access. Engaging the wrong hospital, clinic or health care professional could result in the insurance co. refusing to pay any part of the bill.

    I recently accompanied my mom to a vascular surgeon who worked at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Boston. She was referred to that particular surgeon and he is registered to practice at that facility. After that, she was referred to a wound care specialist at a different Catholic hospital. It was bizarre to see crucifixes on exam room walls and even priests wandering through the hallways like specters. My mom is not an atheist but as a Methodist she hates to see these items all around her in what she considers to be a public space. My feelings about this go without saying. I will always accompany her to these places because I’m afraid they may bully her into something that serves their purposes but would be unethical.



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  • LaurieB #3
    Aug 3, 2018 at 9:35 am

    Writing letters to insurance companies in America seems, from our perspective here, to be a colossal waste of time, paper and ink. Not only will they snivel and sneer at our rational claims, they have proven themselves impervious to any feelings of justice, benevolence and empathy. To be blunt, they don’t care if their clients suffer and even die.

    Thanks for the clarification on the US situation Laurie.

    Being in the UK with our National Health Service, I must admit my only experience of buying health insurance, is buying supplementary insurance when holidaying abroad, although I do change my motor and house insurance, from time to time to get better terms or better prices.

    Even when holidaying abroad, EU citizens have a European health card which allows the use of local facilities on the same basis as the local population in the EU country visited: – so as a tourist, I could use the French, German, Spanish etc. healthcare services if I was ill or injured.



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  • Yes Alan, this bizarre system in the US is a capitalist’s dream come true. Also, completely cruel and unethical. Even with the minimal protection we get at high prices the Republicans are hell bent on overturning the reforms of Obamacare and reducing us back to complete victims at the mercy of the almighty insurance companies.

    Why do people vote against their own best interests!!!??

    so as a tourist, I could use the French, German, Spanish etc. healthcare services if I was ill or injured.

    You may already know this, but as a tourist I can access medical help in Europe if I need it too. That’s even having paid nothing into it my whole life. I’ve mentioned here in the past that my son needed urgent care after he was beat up at a Belgian national soccer game and also after a bar fight when someone stole his phone. We were charged fifty dollars each time and the Belgian police went to some effort to come to our apartment to deliver his leather jacket that had been stolen in the melee. We found this to be very impressive since the police were so polite and had no guns. We initially thought they had shown up with the intention to arrest him as people who get into fist fights here get arrested for assault and battery. Also, the emergency service at hospital had no waiting lines and also excessively polite. If all of this had happened here in Boston it would’ve been a two thousand dollar day at minimum.



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  • Why do people vote against their own best interests!!!??

    The question is why do white folk vote against their own best interest?

    What is the value they get for their loyalty?

    Could it be the value of being told they deserve better than black and brown folk?

    They are ready to settle for a post mortem reward, so their standards are already pathetically low.

    Black folk have the same low standards, settling for the same religious promise but that last little bit of earthly dignity hasn’t been stolen by political flattery. They won’t be so cast down again.

    Could it be poor white folks do not even recognise they are the enslaved now? Black folk will not be fooled again.

    Black folk are the most reliable clear sighted Democrats. They may yet free the American people.



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