My ears perked up and I set my coffee mug down when I heard the following claim thrown into a discussion over the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare):
Young people don’t need insurance. Barring an accident like skiing or being attacked by a panda, they don’t get sick.
Normally, my coffee and I are inseparable especially in the morning. This means the comment not only alarmed me intellectually but also got in the way of me enjoying my coffee and that is just annoying.
I don’t wish to indulge in the debate itself; however I would like to bracket this claim. I’ve heard the comment about three times now and it forces my eyebrows to knit my forehead into premature wrinkling. Rather than reach for the anti-aging moisturizer I’ve decided to blog.
There is something missing and assumed in the claim. Do you see it?
In the 1940’s, philosopher Simone de Beauvoir rocked the establishment with her publication The Second Sex. The central thread to this work evolved around the notion that normal and human were equated with man. Woman, in contrast, was “other.” I dare not delve into a lengthy thesis here, but I would be remiss to not mention that her writings delighted me and forged an impression that underscores some of my views. She is my “Spidey-sense,” if you will: my “Beauvoirian-sense.”
Back to the claim that elicited my Beauvoirian-sense: Who are these “young people” not needing insurance? Who are the youth involved in dangerous activity that might rush them to hospital? Close your eyes and try to envision the “young” person of which the naysayers speak?
Do you picture a young man?
Again, my intention is not to debate the pros and cons of Obamacare, but only to examine the implication of this claim, for I believe it thoughtlessly casts aside the realities of women’s health. The unsaid assumption is that the “young” are men, and it reeks of the very sort of thinking Beauvoir tackled in the 1940’s. Women are not part of the equation in the claim. They are “other.” The “norm” is the young man who never gets sick.
It is quite possible that women’s health, upkeep, exams, and everything that has to do with her “parts” is simply unfamiliar. Women themselves don’t exactly share stories about doctor visits. It’s all hush hush. One doesn’t announce, “I need the afternoon off because I’m going for my pap” quite the same way one freely says “I’m going to the dentist for a cleaning.”
Women do go to the doctor and not necessarily because they are sick. From the age of 21 to 30, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend a woman sees a doctor every year for an exam (pap smear and pelvic). These exams detect the early stages of cervical cancer.
Aside from these exams, do you notice anything else about young women with respect to seeing a doctor?
If women are pregnant then they usually seek medical attention. If women do not want to get pregnant then they visit a doctor for birth control which requires a prescription and regular examinations. In addition, birth control is sometimes prescribed for other health reasons such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
Gentlemen, maybe you did not see a doctor in your youth but that cannot be the standard of measurement for all people. If we view “youth” to include young women, then the answer is a resounding “Yes” to the question of whether or not they see a doctor.
Where are women’s voices in this debate? The medical community? The Gynecologists? Please feel free to comment and share below.