I tend to wait for the right time to talk about subjects as the American Healthcare System. In my ten-year journey, I have seen the worst of the American Healthcare System, and also what can change when we start caring for those that are sick in this country.
So here is my story.
I was officially diagnosed with Bipolar One disorder in the psych ward at my local hospital at the age of twenty-two. The hospital released me with a laundry list of medications and no way to pay for any of the medication or the help that they recommended that I go get on the outside.
I had quit my job the year before and I wasn’t making anything resembling work. I was lost and in one of the worst depression cycles of my life. I didn’t know what the hell being Bipolar even meant and when I asked the obvious question of how one goes about paying for the medicine they made me take in the psych ward without insurance, the answer was simple.
They told me they didn’t know.
I was twenty-two and too old to be on my parent’s healthcare plan. When my mother tried to get me help me get help from the State of California I was told they could do nothing because I had a pre-existing condition.
Well yeah. You go to the hospital because you tried to kill yourself, the doctors overwhelm you with medicines, diagnosis, and send you on your way. If I knew beforehand that I was sick, then it wouldn’t be a pre-existing condition, was the reality of it? It made no sense to me but at the time I cared less about life.
My mother, however, did everything she could. The medicines the doctors said I needed were paid out of pocket. When the most expensive medicine, my Seroquel, started to cost $600 dollars for a thirty day supply, I had to rely on samples from my doctor and programs that offered the medication for free. The process took months to apply and even when I got the medicine I always had to apply again so quickly.
My mom fought tooth and nail just to get me into the adult system of care at my local behavior health department and it was wonderful how she succeeded because it’s rare that they take people on without insurance.
One of the funniest thing that was told to my mother after one of my suicide attempts, was that if I was illegally here I could get more help. The country in which I was born and raised in basically told me I was on my own because I was a relatively healthy male, was born here, even though I had a mental illness that stretched for miles, it didn’t matter.
From 2007 to 2014 I racked up more medical debt from countless hospital visits than I have in my entire educational process. The numbers are astounding and a bit on the astronomical side. But what I going to do? Not go to the hospital when I needed help. You try telling my mom that she shouldn’t take me in when I felt suicidal.
Perhaps the hardest thing of all in my journey without insurance is that for almost five years I really struggled on my own. Sure I was given limited help in the adult system of care by seeing a psychiatrist once a month, but that wasn’t he help that I needed. I got my medicine every month but that was about the extent of the help my psychiatrist could give me.
I struggled for a long time before finally, in Obamacare, it allowed me to get more help because I no longer could be denied help because of my pre-existing condition. I saw for the first time the benefits of having a therapist that could help me through my issues. I could finally see how getting real help, actually helps you understand your diagnosis.
The problem was that I had to live through seven years of not getting any real help with my diagnosis and dealing with being Bipolar one on my own. For the first three years my mother took on the struggle for me, but eventually, I took over and the struggle when you don’t have insurance it really sucks.
I guess that is where the debate starts. Would something like universal healthcare really work in America? It would help those like me who really needed help when every door was closed because I was a relatively healthy male (I seriously was told that more times that I can count on my journey even though I was Bipolar.)
I have researched this subject of universal healthcare to exhaustion and I have written several papers that outlines the good and bad. I get it people are on either side of the fence.
But my perspective comes from this, there are so many people in the mental illness community benefiting from a program like Obamacare. If the system goes back to a “pre-existing condition” type programs many people will lose their coverage and it can be the difference between life and death.
I would have to once again choose which of the medicines I take based on what I can afford and which ones will have to wait or stopped altogether. I may lose the ability to see my primary care doctor regularly and even if I can see my doctor, I won’t be able to afford the medicine that they prescribe me.
I do get it. Obamacare isn’t great for everyone, but what is currently on the table right now when it comes to reconfiguring healthcare will lead to going backwards for the mental health community. I speak in part of this specific community, but there are so many others out there worried about their future and if the cutting of healthcare means their life could end how we do that someone? It’s a serious thing and one that I have thought about extensively in the last year.
When did society change to a place where people who need help, citizens and even those aren’t citizens, are refused basic human rights because of politics?
It just bothers me especially since I am versed in politics, but I find myself tuning out political conversations these days because there is a real possibility that people like me will be ill equipped to pay for medicine that keeps them alive.
I waited a long time to write such a blog post because my story hasn’t always been great when it comes to the American Healthcare System. It seems we have become a society that worries more about the profits of the medication that the doctors prescribe us over the lives of human beings.
I wanted to end this post on a few ways. I reflected today on how much better I could have gotten with real healthcare in the beginning of my diagnosis. Could my first suicide attempt have been my last? I am not blaming the American Healthcare System for all my suicide attempts over the years but the reality is I didn’t get the help I needed. I think if I got help things might have been better earlier, but I digress.
I am still here in spite of the American Healthcare System.
It’s true I worry about my future, but I worry about the future of others as well. The young twenty something who decides to forgo getting healthcare coverage because it’s too expensive. Then down the line, he or she is diagnosed with Bipolar disorder and it’s a pre-existing condition. No healthcare coverage and lost in the darkness of depression and he turns to suicide as the answer.
That was me.
Lastly I would like to hear the thoughts on the American Healthcare System from my fellow bloggers. What does the future hold for us?
Always Keep Fighting.
Photo Credit:unsplash-logoDaan Stevens