Dear Mark Bertolini (CEO of Aetna),
I am a registered nurse. I help mothers bring their babies into the world. I’m proud to be a Labor and Delivery Nurse, a specialty I’ve practiced ever since I graduated in 2007, and in which I’m certified (RNC-OB). I hope to continue in my profession for many years to come. There’s only one problem … my back hurts.
On 1/12 I submitted paperwork to Aetna for a claim to be reimbursed for chiropractic care. Though your company’s explanation of benefits states I am entitled to 20 chiropractic visits a year, today (and 12 phone calls to Aetna Representatives later) my claim was denied.
The amount was for a modest sum, yet your company’s denial of this claim infuriates me. You see, I believe I am your company’s ideal member. In 2015 I personally paid more than $6,000 towards insurance premiums, (not including my employer’s contribution) yet our family spent your company less than 1/8th of that. My husband, child and I are healthy. My daughter has only had three sick child visits in the four years of her life.
I, like yourself, have researched the benefits of a regular yoga practice. I love my daily yoga and the long walks I take with my daughter. I’m not overweight, I don’t smoke, and I limit my intake of sugary and processed foods. Every day I prepare healthy, home cooked meals for my family, full of lean proteins and colorful vegetables. In fact, the biggest risk factor I possess, a liability as your corporation might view it, is my profession.
Caring for YOUR customers, the individuals YOU insure, is the number one biggest risk factor for injury in my daily life. Nurses suffer 35,000 back and other injuries at work per year, and even proper technique exposes our spines to “dangerous forces.”
Eight years into my profession, I understand and fear this reality implicitly. I personally know countless nurses who have suffered career-ending injuries. Every morning as I drive home after working a night shift, my neck, back and shoulders ache.
Chiropractic adjustments give me instant relief, not only relieving back pain but improving my headaches and helping me sleep. Chiropractic care is not emergency care — it won’t replace the surgery that I might need one day if I’m not able to access ongoing, preventative care. Chiropractic is, by definition, preventative care. It allows me relief from pain in order to continue doing the work that I love.
Please, Mr. Bertolini, do not turn your back on those of us who are the backbone of American healthcare. Don’t make us wait until we suffer repetitive, permanent injuries from the daily strain of our work. Don’t make preventative or therapeutic care like chiropractic or acupuncture prohibitively costly by denying claims for benefits you previously promised. Invest in the future health of your company, and the overall health of this country, by protecting the health of your nurses. Our backs depend on you.
Sincerely, Kate Novotny
Registered Nurse, BSN, RNC-OB