Vasectomy, Vasecto-you, guys need Planned Parenthood, too

[Ed. Note: Readers, meet Paul Riddell, a swell guy I’ve known for some years, who’s a carnivorous plant enthusiast from Dallas. Paul left a comment on my post about anti-choicers who wouldn’t/couldn’t provide for me a list of alternatives to Planned Parenthood that I think everyone needs to read. Paul’s story of getting a vasectomy at Planned Parenthood after a non-stop hassle from private doctors shows just how important their services are for men, too–so I’ve reposted it here.]

By Paul Riddell

Andrea, thank you for pointing out exactly how much Planned Parenthood helps, and I’d like to add that it does a lot for men, too. Due to various health issues, my wife simply can’t take chances on having children, and we really weren’t bothered by not being parents, so I did the responsible thing and had a vasectomy. I’ll give you the punchline first and state that I did it with Planned Parenthood: I had a great doctor who did an excellent job, and everyone involved was extremely professional and caring. The cost was a little over $400, and we discovered that PP couldn’t take our insurance, so I had to pay that out-of-pocket.

As I said, I gave you the punchline. The problem was getting to that point. We received a lot of recommendations from friends and family on urologists who performed vasectomies, so we went with one recommended by two friends who’d had theirs done by said doctor. I also want to note that many of those urologists’s receptionists either told me I’d have to wait months to be slipped into the schedule, or they never bothered to call back. This one had receptionists who told us, sure, our insurance was good, and I could get in on a Tuesday afternoon. I took the afternoon off, ready to get it over and done with.

Okay, first sign this guy was willing to take the money if a patient was really determined: a particularly thick stack of paperwork. Every other page had warnings that I had to sign stating that if the insurance didn’t cover the procedure, I’d be responsible for the whole $1600(!) and have to pay it in advance. I was then shuttled into a room to watch a particularly annoying video, apparently to reassure yuppies and yahoos that they’d still be a man if they got snipped, and told “We’ll get going after you watch this.”

Ten minutes later, I was shuttled into the doctor’s office, where I waited a full hour before he finally deigned to check in. He asked, “When do you want to do this?”

“Right now, obviously.”

“Oh, we don’t do that. This is just the consultation. We’ll have to schedule you for a different time.”

“Your receptionists told me that we could do this today.”

“Oh, we don’t do that. I think we’ll be able to get you in about seven weeks from now.”

Besides the nasty treatment and the blatant lying, it gets even better. Said consultation cost me an additional $100, and the receptionist told me that the office would send all of the preapproval paperwork to my insurance company. Considering I’d already been lied to by that same receptionist, I went home and called the insurance provider for preapproval. The rep at Blue Cross/Blue Shield called back, stating that they wouldn’t tell her exactly how much the procedure was going to cost after all, so she couldn’t guarantee a preapproval. Several more calls to the office over the next week, and nothing but a runaround as to when they were going to contact Blue Cross. I finally decided “Bollocks to this,” cancelled my seven-week appointment, and went to Planned Parenthood.

The final aggravation? I got a different receptionist when I cancelled the appointment, and she was apparently as obtuse and as incompetent as the first, because I received a series of calls reminding me about this appointment. When I said “Sorry, but I already had it done,” the response was “Oh.” That was the response on the third and fourth calls, too. I get the impression that if I had actually gone in, the doctor would have used a Weed-Eater and charged me double.

What really got me, though, was the whole attitude. If I’d been wanting to endorse unlimited procreation and get that vasectomy reversed, they would have fallen all over themselves. I watched that happen with one patient while I was filling out paperwork. The attitude with actually getting it done was “Oh-KAY, we’ll take your money, but we’ll do everything we can to encourage you to change your mind.” If this is typical for men trying to get some control over their reproductive destinies, then I’m not surprised in the slightest that women get it even worse. It’s also the reason why I contribute as much as I can to Planned Parenthood, because I don’t want this garbage happening to anyone else.

About andrea grimes

Andrea is a journalist living in Austin, TX. She has a master's degree in anthropology and did her thesis work on gender and stand-up comedy. Seriously. Also, she has a bunch of cats. Three of them. Is three a bunch? Discuss.
This entry was posted in duders, personal essays, politics, reproductive health. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Vasectomy, Vasecto-you, guys need Planned Parenthood, too

  1. joereform says:

    So your anecdote about an isolated clinic means what, exactly? You didn’t need Planned Parenthood, in any case. It was beneficial to you.

    I would imagine that both the video and the “consultation” spring from a fear of litigation about a surgery that is elective. Don’t plastic surgeons do pretty much the same thing? (To head the usual intentional misunderstanding off at the pass, I know the difference between a tummy-tuck and a vasectomy. However, both are elective procedures, which is the issue here.)

  2. David says:

    I got a vasectomy a decade ago at a PPH clinic after several friends told me about their own experiences. The biggest determinant for them was the cost — at that time it was only $250 at PPH, which was less than the co-pay for the couple of guys who found their insurance would cover it. The others’ insurance wouldn’t cover anything. My brother got his done by his doctor at a hospital and it cost him nearly $5,000, and he needed three follow-up appointments while PPH doesn’t need any. Just for grins, I asked my current insurance company, and while they DO cover vasectomies sort of, it’s still cheaper to go to PPH than to use my insurance.

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