The coronavirus pandemic has fucked over plenty of people, and we recently learned that the rich and/or famous are not immune to the far-reaching effects. No, I’m absolutely not talking about how hard it is to be isolated in a mansion. It was revealed last month that SAG-AFTRA, the labor union representing Hollywood actors and media professionals, decided to overhaul its SAG-AFTRA Health Plan in the middle of a pandemic, which would involve cutting health care coverage to certain members that didn’t meet certain earning requirements. An asshole move, considering it’s hard to meet earning requirements when your industry has shut down your ability to earn. So naturally, lots of actors were pissed, like Rosanna Arquette, who lost her coverage. And now here comes Hilary Swank to let us all know the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan was a mess long before COVID-19 hit.
According to People magazine, Hilary has had enough of the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan shenanigans, and that’s why her lawyer has gotten involved. Hilary’s health grievances go all the way back to 2015. The way she tells it, it sounds like even if you’re earning enough metaphorical health plan tokens, SAG-AFTRA is still going to shrug their shoulders and suggest you move on to Plan P (prayer, payment plan, or panic – your choice). Hilary says she was diagnosed with ovarian cysts in 2008, a diagnosis that happened after her left ovary was “destroyed” and subsequently removed during emergency surgery. In 2015, the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan allegedly decided that Million Dollar Baby could not claim any money for her ovarian cyst treatments.
For those who unfamiliar with ovarian cysts, they can be pretty harmless, like the golf ball-sized one I had that literally just disappeared one day. But oftentimes they’re debilitating. They suck, and that’s exactly why Hilary sought out medical treatment for them. And since these specific cysts are the things that only affect people with ovaries, Hilary believes that’s why the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan decided to stop covering them.
In a statement obtained by People, the actress said she was “truly exhausted by the way women’s ovarian and cyclical health issues continue to be treated by healthcare insurance companies.”
“I have experienced it in my own life, and I continually read about it across social media and in the press,” Swank said. “Their policies are antiquated, barbaric and primarily view the role of women’s organs solely as a means for procreation.”
Her proof of such is that when she was denied further coverage in 2015, it happened at the same time she was also in discussions about possible fertility treatments. She thinks the two are connected in a sexist way:
“Seizing upon Swank’s choice to keep her options open, the Trustees pointed to an exclusion in the Plan for ‘infertility treatment,’ relying on the notion that the only purpose of preserving the health of an ovary is to procreate.”
When Hilary pointed out that she was only seeking info about fertility treatments, SAG-AFTRA allegedly dug in their heels and decided her “ovarian cyst treatments” was a sneaky secret code for fertility treatments, which they don’t cover. So they stopped covering her ovarian cyst work.
Hilary goes on to say that she’s going the lawsuit route because she hopes to help anyone fighting with their insurance companies over issues like hers. She also mentioned that her experience – aka a rich lady who can pay out-of-pocket – is likely very different, and that they, “either financially deplete their resources, or they forgo the treatments, quietly suffering in pain and risking their lives.” She says:
“My hope is to be a voice for them. SAG/AFTRA Healthplan claim they treat and protect all their members equally. I don’t believe this is true. If you’re a woman suffering from female health issues, I have no doubt you’ll agree with me. If you’re a man, ask your mother, your daughter, your sister, or a girlfriend. I already know the answer. I’m suing SAG/AFTRA Healthplan. It’s time we are treated fairly.”
I’m personally side-eyeing the SAG-AFTRA Health Plan for denying anything. Hollywood is a multi-billion dollar industry! You mean to tell me they can cover the cost of “deviated septums“, but they can’t cut a check for organ cysts? And on the star of The Next Karate Kid? Come on. The SAG-AFTRA Health Plan might think they’re saving money, but film production will end up losing way more every time an actor ruins a take by curling into a ball and yelling, “Cut! Cut! No literally, I think I’m gonna need surgery on this.”