Bioethics Blogs

“I Feel It In My Bones”: When Medicare Doesn’t Cover Treatment

Editor’s Note: Skya Abbate, DOM has been a licensed Doctor of Oriental Medicine in the state of New Mexico since 1984. She is also nationally certified in acupuncture and Chinese herbology. Skya holds a MA in Sociology 1973 from the University of Rhode Island, a Masters in Pastoral Studies 2012 from Loyola University New Orleans and a MA in Bioethics and Health Policy 2016 from Loyola University Chicago. She teaches at Southwest Acupuncture College in Santa Fe, New Mexico and is a doctoral student in Bioethics at Loyola University in Chicago. 

by Skya Abbate

“Good afternoon,” I chimed to the young girl at the reception desk. “I am here to see the

doctor at 1:30.”

“Hi, are you Skya?” 

“Yes,” I replied.

She routinely asked, “Has anything changed since your last appointment?”

Accustomed to saying no I paused then recalled, “Yes, my insurance has changed.” 

She inquired, “What is it now?”

“Medicare and Medicare Supplement,” I responded.  

She got up from her seat and turned her back to me. “Oh, the doctor doesn’t take Medicare. It’s so much paperwork and she’s cutting down on her patients. Do you still want to stay for your appointment? Depending upon how long she sees you it will cost you about $150 for ten minutes.”

I shrunk in stature from my newfound vulnerability, not at the cost but at what seemed like a dare. I tried not to be overly sensitive to these explanations and her proffer — and perhaps, also, the awkwardness of the encounter. I retreated from the counter, head down, eyes averted inward as I asked myself how much the results of the test meant to me over walking out, ashamed somehow that I no longer belonged here after a twenty-five year relationship with the doctor.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.