Monday, March 05, 2007

In sickness and in health

Mrs. Gerbil and I have been thinking (perhaps obsessively) about little gerbs. Conveniently, I've just begun a new job that will not only help fund the production of little gerbs, but also provides much more affordable and comprehensive health benefits. This job is very pregnancy-friendly, and at the moment there are several pregnant or recently post-partum people on site. This is all very good news for the two-member Committee on Gerb Production.

Our new health package includes full coverage for preventive care. Fantastic, I thought, because prenatal care is, by its very nature, largely preventive. But then I asked someone whether prenatal care is covered as preventive care, and I was sorely disappointed to hear that it is not. And then it dawned on me: Like most other health plans, our shiny new one considers pregnancy a sickness.

To be a covered "sickness," pregnancy must have its own diagnostic code, at least for purposes of billing. In the ICD-9 (the current US standard), the diagnostic code for normal pregnancy is V22.2. Anything diagnosable is de facto abnormal, and thus normal pregnancy is abnormal.

("Okay, okay," you are saying, "pregnancy is a departure from normal bodily functioning, so isn't this diagnosable sickness thing warranted?" But humor me here.)

Sickness is by definition bad. Nothing good can come directly of sickness. Sure, you might have a renewed appreciation for life if you survive a serious illness or injury; but the most positive direct result of sickness that I can think of is that once you've had the chicken pox, you are almost guaranteed not to have a repeat performance.

And yet every single human being that ever was is the result of pregnancy. Perhaps you are a cynic and believe that human beings are no good. But hey--you wouldn't be around to hate your fellow human beings if not for pregnancy. Which, I hasten to add, is diagnosable.

Now I shall blow your mind some more with my, well, mind-blowing logic. Even in our enlightened times, women are expected to want to have children. Those who do not want to have children are, at least in some circles, considered abnormal.

Thus: In order to be considered normal, you have to be considered abnormal.

I rest my case.

3 comments:

Heather said...

I think I need a cup of coffee before I understand that last part...

Chip said...

Ahh Patriarchy! Where anything deviation from the nominal functioning of the male body is seen as inherently pathological. It’s a good deal really; affirm pregnancy as an exclusively female sickness and we’ll cut you some slack. I mean, crud, if you were to think, for even a second, that pregnancy was a female power you might get it into your head that you’re fully human! Who’s going to make the nation’s pot roasts then?! Incidentally, I’m looking for a good pot roast recipe to make.

Chip said...

Ahh Patriarchy! Where anything deviating from the nominal functioning of the male body is seen as inherently pathological. It’s a good deal really; affirm pregnancy as an exclusively female sickness and we’ll cut you some slack. I mean, crud, if you were to think, for even a second, that pregnancy was a female power you might get it into your head that you’re fully human! Who’s going to make the nation’s pot roasts then?! Incidentally, I’m looking for a good pot roast recipe to make.