In which I divulge personal information you may prefer not to know, depending on who you are and how you know me. I clearly don’t think it’s too much to put on the Internet (and I think about these things), but FYI.
So, despite being a huge Planned Parenthood supporter, I had actually never been to one until late last week, when I visited Plan, an express clinic that opened a few months ago in Davis Square. I went to get an STD check and a refill on my birth control, since I currently can’t afford to go visit my regular OB/GYN to take care of this (and get a pelvic exam)*. Plan doesn’t offer pelvic exams, but they do STD tests and other counseling.
While I only managed to complete one of my two tasks, I still had a fantastic experience. I had to fill out some paperwork, not unexpected, and then the receptionist looked it over and asked about my insurance. We had The Chat (see below). Or rather, I was prepared to have The Chat and she just wanted to make sure I knew about the law, and was completely pleasant/neutral when I said it was too expensive. Before she started entering my info, she made a point of telling me that their office doesn’t do the sliding scale charges that full-scale PP clinics do, and so I would have to pay in full for the tests. STD tests are not cheap ($75-$200 depending on what you’re testing for), and I opted not to get those at the moment. I’ll either trek over to the full-service PP in Allston or find another community clinic to visit (suggestions for Cambridge/Somerville are welcome).
I had a short wait and then a lovely visit with the NP on duty. She asked a very few questions about when my last checkup was, insurance sitation, etc., and was once again pleasant and completely non-judgemental. She took my blood pressure (um, it was really good, and I forget the numbers; 125/65? 80? Sorry Mom, I know you like to know.), and we spent most of our short conversation talking about the side effects of Ortho Evra. Was I aware of them, had I been experiencing any, etc. No awkward conversation about what I’d been up to since I had my last exam. Then she jumped on her computer and looked me up, and tapped in some notes.
I had opted for a wonderful option that Planned Parenthood offers — you walk out the door with a full year’s worth of your birth control of choice, pay for one month’s worth before you leave, and they charge your credit card every month. Sweet! All the OE they had on hand was going to expire in 6/08, so I took nine month’s worth, and will go back some other time to pick up the rest (everyone assured me they would make a note on my account). What a relief to not have the monthly annoying visit to the pharmacy.
But the best part is this: the monthly cost of Ortho Evra through Plan is $20 less than what I have been paying at CVS. (PP recently had to raise the price because the manufacturer did, again, and everyone was very apologetic that they can’t sell me that for the same price that they can sell the Pill.) Why didn’t I do this sooner!?
So I urge you, if there is a PP you can get to, even if it is a pain, give them a call and find out how much they charge for your birth control. And if it’s significantly cheaper than what you pay now, go visit them and get your year’s worth up front. You don’t need a prescription from a doctor, and you can get it without a pelvic exam (though they do like it if you’ve had one in the last year or so). Check here to find a PP near you.
So, all in all, I had a fantastic experience.
* Yes, Massachusetts currently requires all residents to carry health insurance. Yes, they offer plans you can buy if you can’t get any through work or school. No, they are not actually all that affordable — the plans for my income bracket ($15,000, student or unemployed) start at $163 a month, with no prescription coverage. In what world is that affordable to someone who doesn’t have the cushion of generous parents and student loan refund income? I refuse to purchase it on principle.