Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Withdrawal Ain't Pretty; Insurance Companies Are Uglier

I've been trying to quit smoking -- again.

This time, I'm down to 2 packs a week-ish (one pack for 3 days is probably more accurate). I've done this by breaking some of the habits, such as changing when and where I allow myself to smoke, chewing sugarless gum, etc. But I'm still stuck. "Addicted."

I asked about possible meds to help with the last bump, hoping for something to take the edge off the need. Patches didn't work past the first few days. Perhaps it is because I am now smoking less than the patch 'steps'... I don't know. The point is, I asked for some chemical assistance with a chemical addiction.

I must say here that I realize this is somewhat like 'trading' one thing for another, and maybe not the healthiest choice in that regard, but I am trying. In my discussion with the doctor, I mentioned this as well as how much more difficult quitting is for women than it is for men because tobacco etc. winds itself about and insidious inserts itself within our hormonal system.

We talked at great length about the options and eventually decided that Chantix would be a good option. (Interestingly, this was also the med recommended by the pharmacist at Wal*Mart when I was talking with him about the lack of success with the patch.)

I got my script, and off I went. To Wal*Mart. Where I was told my insurance would not cover it.

At $200+ (for the first month) I wasn't going to be able to cover it either.

If I was addicted to an illegal drug, say heroine (which, by the way, is documented as easier to quit than nicotine), then boy, I'd sure have insurance-covered options. Not just my prescription would be covered, but so would my counseling, my housing, my return to college (as part of my vocational rehab) -- and I'd be allowed lovely spa visits. Yeah, they'd be called rehab on the insurance forms, and I'm sure the emotional & other work there is a bitch, but they get prepared meals to help with withdrawal & cleansing, a personal trainer, maid service, no bathrooms to clean... Where's my freakin' Betty Ford clinic for smokers?

In a society where smokers are regulated like more than criminals, where our civil liberties are diminished, where children are encouraged to nag their parents, where we are the damned to be openly judged and lectured -- all for a legal substance which has no documentation supporting it impacts our abilities to function like alcohol or other drugs -- you'd think that we leper-addicts would be allowed actual medical treatment for our problem.

But we aren't.

If tobacco is the giant cancer causing menace, and my medical insurance company is supposed to be about my health claims; if all the regulations and limitations put upon me as a smoker are supposed to exist to protect 'the innocents' near me; wouldn't it make more sense to really help me quit rather than just finger-point and accuse?

So pissed at it all, I naturally light-up a cigarette.

Great job, BlueCross BlueShield. Are you sure the 'BS' in BCBS isn't for 'Bull Shit'?
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