The other day I received my benefit enrollment forms for 2016 and did some back of the napkin calculations on what my therapy & medication will cost next year (using this years appointment schedule & medication to plug in the gaps). It will cost me around $6,900.00 for health insurance, co-pays and medication. And that’s based on a monthly appointment schedule (it was weekly when I began therapy) and two generic prescriptions (which would be much more expensive if I were on the name brand). That’s just for my depression and anxiety. Any other health matters throughout the year are on top of that. Two years ago I had an emergency appendectomy that cost me several thousand dollars in unanticipated expenses. Not fun.
Now, my point here isn’t to complain about my situation- I know that despite those costs I’m actually in pretty good shape considering that I even have insurance, that my recovery has been going well and that I’m more or less pretty healthy otherwise. I’m lucky that I live in an area where there’s a robust mental health care community thanks to a public medical university. I’m fortunate to live and work places with easy access to places to get my prescriptions. But just looking at the numbers makes reinforces to me that one of the toughest problems facing people with mental health issues is access and affordability.
Is there a solution? Short of a complete overhaul of everything (HA!) I don’t know. I think there’s a lot of incremental steps that can be taken to make things a little bit better. Expand access to coverage. Reduce the stigma of mental health so people seek treatment. Keep funding research at places like the National Institute of Mental Health. Work to lower the cost of prescription drugs and get generics to the market faster.
I would be interested in finding out what other ideas people have to make things easier or what other challenges they’ve faced while seeking treatment.