Therapy and health insurance coverage

Society still has a stigma about therapy, which is very unfortunate as everyone has issues they are dealing with, including me which is why I am going through counseling. There has even been discussion of rolling back some of the Affordable Care Act requirements in which counseling, therapy and other behavioral health would no longer be paid for by health insurance policies. We think that would be a terrible thing to do to the insurance marketplace.

There is no such thing as perfect in this world, whether it comes to people, “meaningless” material possessions, or anything. No person, object, or condition is perfect, and everything and person is flawed. Every person has a challenge or issue they are now facing or one they will need to deal with in the future. Therapy can be one tool that can assist them now or when needed.

We at needhelppayingbills.com think that health insurance plans should continue to cover some or all of the costs of counseling and other behavioral health services. Some or all of the bills for the service should be paid by Affordable Health Care Plans (Obamacare) or private policies. On a personal note, I feel very strongly about this as I have my own experiences with therapy.

Therapy and counseling background

In late 2015 I had a panic attack. It just hit me out of nowhere. As I have talked about a little in this blog, other than maybe discussing business or work items, I have never liked talking about myself and putting attention on me. I would rather listen to others and give them my attention, energy and time. However I am trying to express myself a little more now (including through this website) as I realize it can be important at times to do this.

During October 2015 I had an attack and was rushed to the emergency room in Mt Pleasant South Carolina. My heart was racing and would not stop, my chest hurt, I was short of breath, my arms were tingling and I was breaking out in a sweat. I thought I was having a heart attack at the ripe old age of 39. On a side note, my insurance plan paid for most of the medical bills. While may policy paid a higher percent of the ER bills than other plans, ACA still mandates plans pay a portion of emergency room costs for all people.

The ER ran tests on me for hours, and they discovered it was not a heart attack. I was released from the hospital and went to see a few doctors and specialists for further testing over the next several days.

During that timeframe in which I was seeing those specialists I would still get tingling and chest pains on a daily basis, break out in sweats, and I could not “function”. I would need to lay on the carpet, literally just stare at the ceiling and just try to breathe. My dog Maxie would often lay next to me…trying to calm me!

After more days of testing as well as consultations with doctors I was found to still be very healthy. I was told the condition must have been a severe panic attack/anxiety, and do to this I took the step of seeing a therapist. My health insurance policy took care of all these medical bills, and they also told me therapy was covered. Now while I do have a higher tier plan, therapy is paid for by all insurance plans as the government mandates it.

Benefits

The therapy/counseling provided me someone to talk to. As a “boy” and “man” growing up, I was taught by society and taught from my roles models (or lack of role models or positive ones) to deal with my own problems. If I was struggling with an issue, or had something going on within me, I was to find the solution on my own and figure it out on my own. Society, my family, and my “role models” all expected that. This “figure it out on your own mentality” is true for many people in this nation, in particular males.

While it can be a long process and people often need to talk to multiple therapists until they find someone they “click with”. It was hard, awkward, and uncomfortable to talk and open up, especially for me (an introvert). But I kept trying.

I eventually benefited from the process. We talked about how I was “killing myself” from working too hard, taking investment risks were causing me tremendous stress, and other business activities were too much. I was doing those things for many years, putting incredible pressure on myself to “succeed”…whatever that meant. But for me it was to succeed financially….yes, somewhat sad as that was my only goal. The pressure, investments, and long hours apparently built up in my body over those years, and my body and mind could not handle it anymore. By mind and body gave out, and a panic attack ensued.

Through therapy, I learned some relaxing and mediation techniques. I changed my investment approach and portfolio. I cut way back on my work and went into a retired/semi-retired status. I tried to relax. Listen to acoustic music (and currently “You and I”), read, walk, nature, diet/exercise, and more.

Even during the counseling process my panic attacks kept coming back, but they were less frequent and not as strong. After several months of some of these action items from the therapist, and ongoing communication, my attacks almost disappeared. Those counseling bills were mostly paid for as well.

So the therapy back in late 2015 – early 2016 helped me with the panic attacks. But they did not address the other issues I was holding in…that maybe led to my drive to succeed, my childhood issues, etc. Those included lack of father figure, no role models, low income background, bullying, etc. The panic attack therapy was somewhat effective for dealing with the immediate crisis of the attacks, but there was more to do under the surface and I could feel my internal hardship still.

As a result of that feeling of not being well, I also used counseling and therapy in 2017 for a few months, and am back in it for 2018. The process helps me to talk about things from my past, what I have buried inside of me for years and have never talked about. Such as family, father, bullying issues, family fighting, and some of the other items I have been alluding too. Therapy helps me to speak out loud about issues, and to have someone to talk to.

Counseling helps me talk about things I am currently dealing with in my life as well, including relationships, threats made at me, separation, life purpose and goals, sadness, and much more. It is helping me determine what is important in life, such as not just professional success.  The process combines issues from my childhood/past that I have been holding in for years with current challenges. It is still very challenging to talk even today, but I need to try.

Therapy and insurance

There should never be a stigma against anyone who seeks help. While there may be some bills that result from the therapy or mental health process (if insurance doesn’t cover the entire cost), the expense can be worthwhile when there is a need. But low income families or those in poverty may not need to pay any medical bills associated with counseling, especially if they are cover by Medicaid.

Therapists are only humans as well. They are not perfect and do not have the answers to life problems, nor should they or attest to. It is common for patients needing to try different counselors until they find a good fit. But even going through the process, talking about past (or current issues) is helpful. But the process does take time, and the medical bills can add up, especially if health insurance did not pay for some or all of it.

My health insurance paid for much of this care and a good part of the resulting medical expenses. Low income Americans, who more than likely can’t pay for mental health on their own, rely on their insurance or Obamacare plans. As noted, we at needhelppayingbills.com think it is critical for health plans to continue to pay some or all of therapy and mental health bills. Who knows, counseling can even save lives too.

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