I thought long and hard about writing this post today. I don’t want to be political, as mental illness crosses party lines, but sometimes mental health IS political, and there’s nothing I can do about it but to try to affect change the best way I know how; and that is talking about how the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the (probable) ratification of the American Health Care Act will affect millions of Americans — including people just like me who struggle with mental illness.
I’m so very, very lucky to be married not only to a wonderful man who loves me unconditionally, but also someone who worked very hard for 34 years to earn a retirement from the United States Air Force. As you may know, military Retirees can purchase TRICARE as their health insurance for themselves and their spouses after the sponsor retires. This health insurance remains in effect for both of them until the Retiree and the dependent reach the age of 65. At that point they transition to Medicare.
If you’ve followed me for a while you know that I admitted myself to a psychiatric ward at the beginning of January. From Googling around, that little week-long spa visit cost the Government about $6,000. In fact, it was such a nice little chunk of change that I have my own personal Case Manager now. Wooo!
Seriously, though, TRICARE isn’t exactly generous with their mental health benefits. Most people only get eight “self-referrals” to a mental health provider, and then must go through the process to get approved for any more treatment. I actually used to avoid going to therapy because of that. From personal experience there is NO. WAY. to “click” with a Therapist and then be able to talk about and resolve your issues by only seeing them eight times a year. In fact, in order for me to get me the help I so desperately needed after my initial diagnosis about ten years ago, we paid out-of-pocket for a sliding scale Therapist — and she still ran $100+ per hour.
I am really. damn. lucky.
That is why I’m so very fired up about the AHCA and its negative consequences for people battling mental health issues.
Today on Twitter I must have tweeted more than I have tweeted in the last two to three years — just trying to spread my story. There is NO shame here; just a desire to let people know my truth and the truth of millions of other people.
What really started it, though, was seeing a meme on Twitter that listed the cost of insuring mental health issues.
It was ONLY $7,000. I laughed and then realized that I needed to to show how wrong that could be.
So I did the math. #MathIsHard — Barbie
Anywho, here are my numbers for just THIS year:
- $7,800 meds — Four a day that still don’t really work. I figure that that’s where the $7K number came from on the meme
- $1,680 — The medication I need (L-methylfolate) that TRICARE won’t cover
Fun Fact #1. Every time I go in to get that prescription filled, the Pharmacy Tech is agog that I have to pay $140 a month for a drug I need to be able to function
Fun Fact #2: The online pharmacy that handles fulfilling the Deplin orders PROMISED me a couple of months ago that they would fill my “$170 for a 90 day supply” of said Deplin if I get my Dr. to write the prescription and send it to them. She’s done that twice that I know of, and so far zero cheap-ish Deplin
- $2,400 therapy — Every two weeks. I’m finally to the point where I don’t need to go EVERY week. I was worried that I would use up my allotment in six months at the rate I was going. I mean, I’m pretty sure that TRICARE doesn’t want me to go back into the hospital, so they’d approve more therapy sessions if needed, but I may be okay. FWIW, my Therapist here in Florida is just as awesome as my Therapist in California #LuckyGirlOnceAgain
- $1,200 Psychiatrist — Once a month. She’s awesome, too
- $6K for hospitalization — Yes, I realize that not everyone is that bad off. However, during my time in the Psych Ward, there were several “repeat offenders” who advised me to never go to the other Psych Ward in town because you had to watch your back all. the. time.
Add all that together and you have almost 20K; 14K if you don’t take into account my week in the hospital.
Also, super-duper fun fact #3: I actually had someone on Twitter tell me today that all I needed was Jesus to be cured from my Depression and Anxiety. I told him that I was already good with God, but that I’d also stick with my other self-care routine.
So there’s that. All I gotta do is pray more to get better. Wooo!
And that’s just me; one relatively-lucky girl. What happens to the approximately 1-in-5 Americans struggling with mental illness who are now about to get kicked off their plans due to pre-existing conditions?
That is just what happened about eight hours ago, and I am scared for myself and the millions of others just like me. What will happen to us if and when TRICARE gets the same treatment? Well, we’d better start saving now — JUST for my psych treatments.
Fun. Fun. Fun.
Do not go softly into the good night, my friends. We must fight to defend those of us who cannot defend themselves; and we must fight for ourselves as well.
Pax tibi to all.