Daily Archives: March 7, 2014

Healthcare Held Hostage

I apologize for not posting in the middle of this week, but to be frank… some crazy shit went down.

I got a call on Tuesday from my therapist who told me the clinic I go to was going to allow me to have three more sessions before I was going to be cut off. This would be remedied only in the instance that I sign up for insurance via the (already mentioned in several emails and sessions) Washington state healthcare reform website.

Now, to say I was flabbergasted by this threat would be an understatement. To think that a reputable community resource is no longer allowing sliding scale clients is heartbreaking (at the very best) because it will be putting many homeless, and the remaining uninsured cliental out in the cold. What felt much worse was the way my ongoing mental health treatment (via talk therapy) was being held hostage and would be taken from me if I didn’t comply.

The truth is, I would have signed up for the low-income, no-cost insurance before now if it meant I could continue seeing the psychiatrist I have had for the last 3 years. Unfortunately, his clinic wont take that insurance. By signing up for this insurance I am forfeiting my right to see the team of doctors I want to see, the team I have hand selected over the last four years.

First I cried. I cried and cried. Then, I got angry. I told my therapist, in a nutshell, to fuck off, and that “there are other therapists I could see.”

When it comes to psychiatry and prescribing mental health professionals, this man (my psychiatrist) is the first and only one I’ve ever trusted. When it comes to thinking about my life and the handful of people who have constantly gone out of their way to help me, even when it wasn’t called for (and possibly might even be breaking the rules to do so), this psychiatrist is one of the very few.

So if it was a choice between the two, therapist vs. psychiatrist, I’d side with the psychiatrist any day of the week.

The clincher is that I’m currently able to see my psychiatrist through a charity program at a local hospital. They’ve expressed that they will not be continuing this program for much longer (due to the healthcare reform) so if my coverage ends suddenly, I am without therapy and my prescribing doctor (not to mention my general practitioner and dermatologist).

It seems that my only option at this point is to sign up for one of the plans that are available to me. I’ve been researching for three days and barely feel any closer to figuring out which one… the internet seems to be devoid of information and every phone number I call has an automated message on the other end.

With all of this crammed into my puny mind I made the trek yesterday to what I expect will be my last appointment with my current (or ex-current now) psychiatrist.

I stepped into his office crying and on the verge of a panic attack. Within minutes he had me calmed down and talking about how screwed up everything has become. After all, the best time to leave your supportive psychiatrist and find a new one is when you’ve been suicidal for a month… right?

As usual, he was overwhelmingly helpful. Printing me documents, giving me extra lengthy prescriptions so I wouldn’t have to worry about my medications running out in the meantime, and giving me tips on a couple of the plans that might work best for me.

I have such a hard time trusting doctors (psychiatrists especially) that I felt heartbroken (for lack of a better word) walking out of his office. Our relationship always felt more like having a powerful friend than being subjected to some kind of overbearing taskmaster.

After all of this, it isn’t the emotional depression that stays with me, or the anger about being forced into a bad situation, or the anxiety about not knowing what to do next… it is the sense of loss and emptiness knowing that there is something of a hole where a good, strong support system used to be. The fear of finding myself in crisis and having to scramble to get help instead of knowing who to turn to.

Though the SSDI hearing last month was one of the most terrifying days of my life, this insurance situation is really much more detrimental to my overall mental healthcare. I’m starting over from scratch at a time when I am in a very fragile state, and there is still a lot more I need to research and determine before I can start putting the pieces back together.

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