Monday, February 8, 2010

Rant about Healthcare Reform

I have battled with depression and bipolar disorder for over 10 years. For the last 2.5 years, I've been able to manage my issues without the need for medication. I had kicked my ex out of the house, met a new guy, and things were looking up for me. When I lost my job in August of last year, I could tell that I might run into some problems. I was starting to get depressed, but it wasn't overwhelming. We made it though a tough time of almost losing everything, but pulled through. Now I've got a good job, and I can afford to pay the bills, so my stress has lightened considerably. Until yesterday. I don't know what happened, but whatever it was, it hit me like a freight train. I couldn't get out of bed, no matter how hard I tried to talk myself into it. Hubs tried to help me as well, and I think I freaked him out, because I just started bawling for no apparent reason. After a lot of coercion, I finally got out of bed and dressed so we could go to a SuperBowl party. Not such a good idea. I really wanted to go, but I was dreading being in a crowd. I lasted less than 2 hours before I had to go home and get back in bed. The stress of trying to hide how crappy I felt just wore me out even more. This morning wasn't as bad as yesterday, but I still had to force myself out of bed.

I'd like to reenforce the point that these feelings are not your typical "I'd rather sleep than go to work" feelings. These are so intense that moving any body parts are physically and emotionally extremely exhausting, therefore making it even harder to get up and do things. I hate it when people say "I know how you feel", when in reality they have no idea. That's what a lot of people don't get. Yes, everyone has these feelings at some point in time, but most can handle them properly without ever realizing it. When people have depression or bipolar disorder, we can't handle it properly. We are not over-reacting, and we are not trying to play a victim. We are not hypochondriacs, are we are not making these problems up. Have you ever had Mono? For a month you are stuck in bed feeling like you are going to die? That's a little closer to what being depressed is like. And when you have depression and bipolar disorder together, it gets even worse.

Hubs had found some of the medication I was taking a few years ago, and I have contemplated trying that. Unfortunately, those take up to 2 weeks to kick in, and I can't take the next 2 weeks off of work. The biggest issue with the medication is the cost. My bipolar medication costs $250 a month, and depression meds cost another $150-300, depending on the brand and dosage. There are a lot of drug assistance programs out there to reduce the cost of the scripts, which can help in some cases, but not mine. I work as a contractor, so the company isn't required to provide health insurance benefits. I make too much to qualify for low-income assistance, but I don't make enough to afford insurance out of pocket. After pricing a bunch of them, I have reached a average of $300-500 a month to cover the premiums that would include mental health care. It costs just as much for the insurance as it does for the meds.

Needless to say, I am currently stuck between a rock and a hard place, with no clear exit strategy. What makes this all worse, though, is that there is no end in site. Obama is trying to push for health care reform, but I'm not getting my hopes up until something actually happens. Currently, there is no definitive way to tell if any of this reformation will help me out. Here's what HealthReform.gov tells me:
Here's What You Will Get Out of Health Insurance Reform:

Reform will bring down costs generally and make insurance more affordable and accessible, ensuring more choices for quality coverage
- Ok, how much? A $50 decrease in preiums still leaves them at $250-450 a month.

Reform will establish an insurance exchange that will provide easy one-stop shopping to compare rates and services and promote competition
- This exists already, so no change there.

Reform will offer tax credits and assistance to families, and to small businesses so they can offer competitive, affordable rates to their employees.
- Great! Tax credits! But who will qualify for them? My husband and I are not considered a family because we don't have a child.

Reform will end discrimination based on gender - a healthy 22 year old female can be charged premiums 150% higher than a healthy 22 year old male under the status quo.
- That's nice. So my premium could drop to $200-400? Still too much.

Reform puts a cap on what insurance companies can force you to pay in out of pocket expenses, co-pays and deductibles.
- That would be nice, but again, how much? $1000 less? That still puts some deductibles at $4000-9000. I don't have that much to spend out of pocket before the insurance company takes care of it.

Reform will expand coverage for children through their parents’ plan until they’re twenty-six if their parents so choose.
- Screws anyone that gets married before the age of 26. I qualify as a full-time student under 24 on my dad's policy, but I can't get in under him because I'm married.

Reform will eliminate discrimination based on pre-existing conditions or medical history.
- Good. Another year without my meds isn't going to work.
All in all, I can find a problem with just about everything they are talking about changing. I think it's time for me to move to Sweden, where healthcare is free. I might not make as much money, but I'd be a lot happier because I'd be on my meds.

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