Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Sliding Scale

Sometimes I have to stop myself and ask: “Do people really care?” Not just any people, but the people who are here to help us: doctors, healthcare providers and mental health professionals. Do they really want to see us get better, or do they just want us to remain “as is” and collect as long as they can? I’d like to give the benefit of the doubt, and I also know that we’re all in our own types of businesses to make money, but it does seem as though these healthcare professionals don’t have a heart to the people who need their services the most. We can play the blame game all day long, but really - who is at fault? Even with most insurances, they’ll pay a percentage of whatever doctor you’re seeing. If you have a low income, a sliding scale isn’t a sliding scale unless it slides of course. That’s discretionary of the doctor or professional that’s treating you. What good is insurance when you have to pay most of it out of your own pocket? It doesn’t make sense.

Let me get into the mental health side of things. I have been seeing the same psychiatrist for almost 5+ years. I just found a therapist after a year and a half to help me with my anxiety disorder & depression and to provide cognitive behavioral treatment. I have insurance, however I pay $50.00 out of my pocket for the psychiatrist and $40.00 out of my pocket for the therapist. My question is: if I see my family doctor for the flu or whatever may be wrong with me under the sun, and I don’t have to pay one penny out of pocket, then why are my psychotherapists charging me an arm and a leg? Is mental health not as important? If I walk into my shrink’s office and claim I’m suicidal, isn’t that more dangerous than having the swine flu?

Even though I go to therapy for anxiety disorder and mild depression (which is due to the anxiety), there are worse case scenarios out there that really do need the help, but they cannot afford it. So they wander aimlessly, without help until it’s too late. I wonder if it’s one of the reasons why some kids in high school are shooting their peers and then committing suicide. They cannot cope with their mental anguish by themselves and cannot afford the professional help that they so desperately need.

So who’s to blame - the insurance companies or the doctors who have the ability to “slide the scales”?