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All Up in My Business

November 26, 2013

The other day I got a letter from Doctor Sherman.  “Is it time for you to schedule your next pap test?”  Well geeze doc I don’t know, you’re the doctor.  Oh, I’m told a pap test can find cancer of the cervix at an early stage.  Good to know. Who are you again, Dr. Sherman?  Oh you’re an MD, MBA, MS.  Thank goodness I thought you had no credentials since you clearly can’t keep track of the last time I had a Pap test.  Dr. Sherman then goes on to quote “leading health experts” about the current screening recommendations for cervical cancer.  Good to know.  He even includes a flyer on Chlamydia and HPV, which causes me to think that maybe Dr. Sherman knows something I don’t…  But here’s how I know Dr. Sherman really knows me and my cervix:  “If you are not due to schedule your Pap test within the next few months, or do not need one due to previous surgery or a health condition, we apologize for this reminder.   Oh OK.  Dr. Sherman apologizes if he’s somehow forgotten that he removed my cervix.

Dr. Sherman is not my doctor.  I love my doctor, she’s a dear friend, and if I needed a test she’d call me and tell me to get myself in to the office this minute or else.  Dr. Michael S. Sherman is the Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer my health insurance company.  I will sell bags of sand to Bedouins if Dr. Michael S. Sherman gives two hoots about my cervix.  Why this sudden concern for my wellbeing?

I actually don’t know the answer to this.  Certainly screening for cancer prevents some of the expense associated with getting and treating the cancer itself.  So maybe the company is trying to save money.  But nobody is sending me loving letters about my overdue mammogram.  And for a long time insurance companies didn’t want to pay for contraceptives, in the mistaken hope that no one would have sex I guess, since pills are less expensive than babies.  Maybe said insurance company is getting ready to financially penalize my doctor for something I have or haven’t done.  That’s a real possibility.  I’ll have to ask my (real) doctor who does care about me and actually takes care of me about that because I’m sure Dr. Sherman is not concerned for his own paycheck.

Maybe there’s some new initiative I don’t know about, or new law, or maybe women in Boston are rising up against the tyranny of their cervixes (cervici?) and not getting tested and now cervical cancer has run amok on Beacon street.  No idea.  I do know that my insurance company is there, or should be there, to pay for my catastrophic health needs and help with the routine ones, NOT to act as my doctor or any part of my calendar or conscience.  Whether or not I’ve had any test or procedure should really be between myself and my doctor but it’s not.  It’s between myself, my doctor, and Dr. Insurance Company.  It’s very irritating.  Especially the Chlamydia flyer.

  1. Randy B permalink


  2. I had my baby three and a half months early due to preeclampsia. The insurance company continued to send “not that your such and such month pregnant this is what is happening” educational flyers. Automated torture.

    • Thanks for reading Becca. Awful isn’t it? Same thing happened to me when my second was in the ICU with a respiratory problem.

  3. Mary Sive permalink

    Dear Dr. Leng, You may wish to direct these remarks also at Medicare, which recently advised my husband about obesity, among other health issues. At 91, he has been bedridden for two years and is down to 123 lbs. Not only irrelevant and unwarranted, but hurtful as well, though I am sure they mean well. Mary Sive Montclair NJ

    • Thanks for reading Mary. So sorry about your husband. Anytime an anonymous, corporate voice dips in to a person’s personal health, even if well-meant, hurtful things like this can happen.

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