Sep 28, 2007

Health Insurance Plans & Depression

I called up a psychiatrist for an appointment since I didn't trust my general doctor to throw random meds my way just because I told her that I was feeling blue and anxious. Whether I'm really depressed or not, I don't know, but upon my first visit and answering a few questions my psych jotted down a bunch of notes and decided that I've got a case of moderate recurrent depression.

After she bitched for about 15 minutes about how most shrinks really hate medical insurance because of "all of the forms" and that it takes so long to get paid, she decided to give me a free trial of an SSRI antidepressent (Lexipro.) I've tried a few meds in the past -- xanax for my panic attacks and ritalin for my add, but I've never consistently taken anything in the past. I've just gotten to the point where I can't take my anxiety anymore, and it's really getting in the way of functioning. Well, anxiety has gotten in the way of functioning since I was born, it's just it was easier to hide it when I wasn't completely responsible for my well being and time management.

Anyway, I figure the medicine will be rather pricey, even with insurance, but at that point I was ready to try anything to get me out of my slump. (That was about a month ago, btw.) Soon found out that a month's supply of the antidepressant costs $50 (that's after insurance pays their part.) Ouch. Then my doc also decided to prescribe me sleeping pills -- I haven't picked those up yet so I'm not sure how much they cost.

"Lucky" for me, I'm "severely" depressed, so my insurance only makes me pay $15 a visit (instead of 50 percent of the visits costs, which would be something like $75-$100 a visit, I think.) Also, if I wasn't "severely" depressed, I'd be limited to 20 visits per year with a shrink. But because I apparently need lots of help, I can go see a therapist as much as I want for just my co-pay.

I barely go to the doctor for anything else, so I figured I might as well make use of my health insurance to help me be, uh, healthy. I'm quickly slipping some place I don't want to be, and I'm willing to admit I need some outside help.

Well, after the severe depressive disorder went down in my file, I started reading up about future health insurance issues that go along with having pre-existing conditions like depression. My shrink made an aside when she was diagnosing me that she needed to check over time to see if I'm bi-polar, but then she asked for permission to write that down on my charts since apparently that makes it difficult to get insurance later down the road. At the time, I was so out of it and freaked out about the costs of therapy, I figured the worse of a diagnosis I had, the cheaper my costs were going to be.

Now I'm potentially facing a lifetime of overpriced health insurance. My dream is to work as a freelance web designer and marketing copywriter, but being a freelancer I will have to get my own individual health insurance plan. I've read many horror stories about people who were depressed and once on meds getting flat out denied when they applied for individual insurance.

Sure it makes sense for the health insurance agencies to protect themselves, but I'm now terrified (and admittedly even more depressed) knowing that one day I might be SOL when it comes to obtaining affordable health insurance. But it just seems so ridiculous that, while health plans cover mental health conditions, it's all so shady. When I was looking for a psychiatrist in my area, I must have called every single person on my health insurance plan in a 30 mile radius before finding the one psych I'm seeing now. And I'm tired of her bitching about insurance companies and how most psych's she knows don't even take insurance anymore. Ok, I'm sorry I'm not rich enough like everyone else who lives in the area to just pay your fees and deal with my depression. I'm like, a normal person with a fairly normal salary and I need help.



2 comments:

SF Money Musings said...

I was diagnosed with a "mild depression" when I started seeing a therapist last year around this time.

She offered to prescribe me meds despite the hassle of insurance and how she bitched her weekends were spent calling billing and getting paid.

The meds are only changing the chemistry in your brain. Once you're off the meds you're back to square one- that's what one of my friends advised as he was severely depressed after moving. So I set goals for myself and revisted them weekly with my therapist.

I'm glad I have an insurance plan that doesn't limit the number of visits. I was going to choose the cheaper insurance plan with it'd limit me to 20 visits which I'd easily max out.

I've been depressed my entire childhood and I kept it bottled until I was 24. So her suggestion to avoid medication was to talk it out, use psychotherapy, and even try hypnotherapy. There's a lot of new therapy types such as hypontherapy, cognitive therapy and others. I'm a much healthier person mentally than i was a year ago and slightly more confident.

Have you looked into a high deductible insurance plan? you can open a high-yield savings account to save for those expenses. im not sure if the higher deductible would include therapy expenses.

i hope everything works out! good luck!

E.C. said...

I hope that you are doing ok. Please let us know what's going on in your life when you feel up to posting.

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