“Well, I’m sorry. We’re not a charity, so we can’t do that.”
A part of me wanted to scream inside. I had asked someone in the billing department at my psychiatrist’s office about accepting payments to take care of an outstanding bill. That was her irritated response to me on the phone.
No more psychiatric treatment.
Even though I hated these appointments, I desperately needed them to get prescriptions for my recently diagnosed anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. I hated the pills too, but they were helping me get back to normal after I had a breakdown in college right before my senior year of college.
Eventually, I would no longer be covered under my parents’ insurance. If the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was around about 20 years ago, my life would have been a lot better.
Instead, I was one of hundreds shuffled in and out of the county mental health center. The facilities were stark, uninviting and uncomfortable. The administrative staff hardly spoke to you. And if you missed an appointment, boom. You’re kicked out and you have to start the registration and case assignment process all over again.
I’d been living at home rent-free. How could I explain to my parents these drugs were going to cost hundreds of dollars a month?
I had to research different companies who would cover the drugs I had been taking. One of the meds, which I still take to this day, was stigmatized in 1999 because one of the Columbine High School shooters was prescribed the drug. There were no drug programs for that one.
So I had to change medications. Back then, I didn’t realize the price my brain would pay for doing this. So I was switched to Prozac. Not that Prozac was better for me, but because Prozac and my other two medications I could get free or for a reduced price from the county clinic.
I thought I’d be set until I could find a job with insurance benefits. Then…