Life of Megan

Friday, February 02, 2007

Insurance Companies--Make it "One Less"

Merck paints a nice picture--girls in a city, jumping rope together, chanting "One less--I wanna be one less." They're singing about how they can avoid cervical cancer by getting the new HPV vaccine--Gardasil. This vaccine protects women against four strains of HPV, and two of these strains are responsible for up to 70% of all cervical cancer cases. Why is this such a big deal? Because the CDC estimates that at least 50% of US citizens will contract HPV in their lifetimes (and according to many studies, 75% may be a more accurate figure). This vaccine is a HUGE advance in modern medicine and has been championed by medical professionals and women's rights activists alike. More than 12 states have already introduced legislation attempting to make the vaccine mandatory or available free.

In the mean time, few insurance companies currently offer compensation for the vaccine, and some medical practitioners are apparently choosing to write prescriptions for it or other ways of avoiding stocking it because of the cost. Getting a full HPV vaccination requires three shots, each costing $120+. At Cornell, the vaccine costs $150/shot. As a graduate student who complained bitterly when her flu shot cost her $25, I appreciate the toll that $450 can take on a budget. Maybe I'm stereotyping a bit too much, but I find it unlikely that the little girls in the commercial will be receiving the vaccine any time soon (unless they live in the right state, and the legislature flows through).

I don't really blame Merck... I'm sure the development costs were enormous, and the vaccine has only been around since July. But all insurance companies should be providing reimbursement for this one. The vaccine doesn't work after you've contracted HPV--this is something we need to do for the nation's kids.

I will be writing a letter to my insurance company to encourage them to cover this vaccine. I hope you will see my blog and decide to do the same.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A message to Boson-Area Massholes

You try to run over me when I'm halfway across the street, running in a sidewalk. You created and maintain the streets of Cambridge, and during the century that people have been driving cars, you have not made these streets more navigable. Driving in traffic with you is worse than being driven by a NY cabdriver who is in labor, on a cellphone, surrounded by tourists, during rush-hour. And now you can't even distinguish between an advertisement and a public safety hazard?!!

If it weren't for Fenway Park, killer food, the Boston Marathon, and Fannueil Hall, we'd be calling you the new Newark.