Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Disclosure and other legal ramblings

As I mentioned before, I'm an attorney. My practice is incredibly specialized, and I have tried not to disclose too much about what I do because of fear of being "outed" in my workplace. I think all attorneys have a certain paranoia about them, otherwise we wouldn't be good at what we do.

So setting aside my perhaps (rational?) irrational fears of being outed as barren, and just actually identified by those that I know in general, I feel compelled to explain a little about what I do.

Part of my duties at work involves drafting health insurance and other benefit plans. Yes, I know. You are all entitled to hate me now - for it is people like me who make those damn benefit plans incomprehensible - and I know every good "infertile" (ouch - I can feel that label being sewn on) knows all possible permutation of benefits for infertility/pregnancy/childbirth provided by her employer and the government. It hurts me - at times - to draft the policies that exclude artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, GIFT, ZIFT, etc. My heart is heavy each time I put in clauses to prescription drug benefits that specifically exclude fertility medicines knowing how much we pay for the drugs that give us the hope - however small - that we may be able to develop and sustain a pregnancy.

It hurts because I know that the Supreme Court has decided that excluding benefits to reproductively challenged (somehow this euphemism is so much more comforting than "barren") people does not infringe on any fundamental right. It hurts because I know that in drafting these plans, I may be excluding whatever resources a person has to feasibly develop their family. I may literally be pulling out the rug from beneath their dreams. But you see, I have to do this. It's my job - it's my duty. It is in some ways - the ultimate trespass to my own identity.

And every once in a while, it's a wonderful job. For instance when I saw one particular client who provided extensive infertility benefits with a SINGLE deductible of $100 with no lifetime maximums, I nearly fainted. I wanted to quit my job immediately and start working there.

So I try to encourage our clients to provide these benefits, and I contact my legislative representatives to introduce bills to mandate coverage for this. But since my livelihood depends on my continued ability to practice law, I refrain from making "accidental" typographical errors to include coverage where it has not been approved. Instead, I try to draft the plans in ways that the average woman who is blinded by sorrow and rage is able to decipher and understand what she faces, both in terms of bureaucracy and medical treatment. I explain terms and I explain the process of appealing benefit denials. But - I can't explain the hurt, the pain, the sorrow she's currently going through and that she will face in the future. I can't explain the nuances of what infertility means for those of us that are there. I can't explain it - but I wish I could.


At 3:24 PM, Blogger Jen said...

Damn those rules of ethics! It's really too bad that you're too ethical to use your powers for secret infertility purposes! We understand, though--defending yourself against a bar complaint is probably even more expensive than infertility treatment. Sigh.

At 8:36 PM, Blogger Toni said...

Agree with Jen. My company went from covering everything to almost nothing within a span of 1 year. I freaked out - but not enough to make a difference. I hope someday that the small things do add up and everyone has access to the quality care they deserve!!

At 2:20 AM, Blogger Soper said...

Evil! Evil! SB, you must be beaten! Seriously, there is nothing wrong with walking away and taking a job with that company..."retiring" was the best thing I ever did. Cycles went from an average of 40 days to (last month) the magic 28! Not clear and convincing evidence, I'm afraid, but luckily this is (because I say so) simply a preponderance of the evidence standard. So Quit!


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