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Monday, July 6, 2009

Mental Health Parity: A Wild Ride



I've blogged in the past about the insurance industry that pushes state legislators to refuse to support a mandate for mental health parity in every insurance policy. When I was a full time teacher the expenses for counseling services and psychiatric care were trea
ted at par with all other health issues. Treating my injured neck would cost me a 10% co-pay for office calls and practically nothing for hospital costs. Receiving counseling and brief therapy visits with an actual psychiatrist were also 10% co-pays. Now that I am retired I have a new insurance policy that covered my 5 consultations with my neurosurgeon at 10% and, all of the disc removal, donor bone insertion, and fastening of 6 screws in the titanium support plate to fix my neck hospital costs were nothing. And, when I was still in Michigan retired and miserable after my father's and brother's deaths mental health services required a 50% co-pay. Psychiatrists are freaking expensive. I felt like the tax-payers were telling me that now that I'm out to pasture, so to speak, they'll still pay a fair share to fix me from toe to neck, but my brain can rot. Paying for treatment for my bipolar disorder meant sacrificing something in our meager budget.

I don't know if Michigan ever passed the mental health parity bill after we bailed from that misery. I do know that it is heartening to see a bell weather state pass legislation to mandate mental health parity. Of course, the insurance industry is going apeshit because the people's representatives in Massachusetts have given fair treatment to the folks that live with mental illnesses. (H/t to Crooks and Liars)

My brain chemistry is fucked up. Don't I deserve help to live with it? I'll pay my fair share of the costs, if I can, but it is horribly unfair to ask me to pay more to treat my brain's chemical imbalance than for my wonky thyroid which, by the way, can interfere with the balance of chemicals in the brain causing all sorts of shit like depression, rapid heart beat, screwed up libido, and other major problems.

Revelation.

As evidenced by this recent spurt of blog activity I must be on the up side of depression and riding a hypomanic incline. God, I love the coaster but the fucking drops are a bitch sometimes. The trigger that sent me into this last wild ride down may have been the health issue that alerted us to Jadzia's quick decline. I didn't want to deal with it. I couldn't take her to the vet. Billy had to at the end.

Another revelation.

Reading the Crooks and Liars posting about the Massachusetts mental health parity law thrust the issue of mental illness at me. Post traumatic stress was mentioned and suddenly I realized that for as many days as my depression cycle I did not think about the root causes of my very own version of PTSD. I depressed it.

Crap. Another trigger is just around the bend in the tracks.

You know, I loved Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and made my wife go on it with me several times during our visit to Disney World in Florida. However, this wild bipolar coaster ride is not much fun. I'll go around only once, thank you very much.





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