The Ordinary World: You know the signs: you’re struggling to get out of bed, you’re living in your “daytime” pajamas, and you don’t even feel joy about showstoppers on The Great British Bakeoff — despite David’s final bake being a legitimate marzipan dream. You’re depressed.
Call to Adventure: Your best friend begs you to “just try talking to someone.” She has a point — you do pay a boatload for health insurance. Don’t they tout their mental health coverage?
Congratulations, you’re about to embark on a major adventure in American healthcare!
Refusal of the Call: But first, you do nothing. This journey will be arduous and hellishly confusing. Who has the energy? Not when there’s a new season of Selling Sunset.
Meeting the Mentor: Using all your motivation, you finally contact your insurance provider. On the 17th day and 43rd call, someone picks up! Wise Donna (you’ve become very close) gives you the name of a nearby therapist taking new patients. She ends with, “I’m here to help. Kudos to you for taking the first step.” You cry more on this call than you have in months — and you binged Queer Eye last week.
Crossing the Threshold: Sage Donna was wrong and this therapist no longer accepts your insurance. But Donna assures that your insurance still covers 60 percent with out-of-network providers! The first available appointment is in five weeks. Better keep journaling about 90 Day Fiancé till then!
Tests, Allies, Obstacles, Enemies:
- Test: Your insurance covers 60% of the “allowable” amount, which is $80. But your therapist charges $140. Your insurance allows 20 visits a year. What’s the maximum amount your insurance will reimburse? Answer: possibly $0, because they do not cover your diagnosis.
- Enemy: Your company’s Health Savings Account administrator who calls you to let you know that “mental health services” are not an approved use of your own money.
- Ally: Your Mentor, Donna, makes your HSA credit card work in the system. You cry again. You would do anything for Donna!!
- Enemy: Anyone you know who is thriving.
- Test: You receive another letter from your provider. Your insurance deemed your mental health care “not medically necessary.” Now you and your dwindling serotonin levels must learn how to file an appeal…
- Test: Your appeal works! You reconfirm on the 7th phone call that you’re covered, at least for 60 percent of the allowable amount for those first 20 visits. Between the deep breaths you learned watching The Goop Lab, you ask for it in writing.
- Obstacle: You don’t get it in writing.
- Enemies: The healthcare system, your brain chemistry, the entire world.
Approach to the Inmost Cave: The night before your first appointment is filled with doubt. Will your insurance deny you? Will you be asked a barrage of questions about your symptoms that’ll spiral you into a panic attack? Will that Million Dollar Beach House ever get sold?
Ordeal: You spend three intake sessions getting into everything buried in your psyche. You leave feeling like a wrung-out rag. Your first therapist is into attachment theory and keeps asking about the intimate details of your birth. Donna finds you another one. This one’s in-network!
Reward: You get your first bill for the ten sessions you’ve attended so far. You owe…a $10 copay for each, just as Mentor Donna promised. You cry again. You knew there would be tears, but even over the paperwork??
The Road Back: You do your weekly sessions. You learn coping tools. You drink more water. You take your reasonably-priced generic medication. You start making little clay food replicas, just for fun! You briefly consider an Etsy store. But, no: these miniature burgers and funfetti cakes are just for you and the cat, Milton, you’re considering adopting.
Resurrection: Your insurance says you’ve met your yearly maximum and all future sessions will be paid out of pocket. Old you would have cried and stopped going to therapy. But new you writes letters. You contact your company’s HR department. You refute each bill the second you get it. In a coup d’something, you tweet at the company. They even respond. What is this feeling? Is it…resilience? After two months of this, your $10 copay is restored. Donna now cries for YOU and your success.
Return with the Elixir: Armed with your prescriptions, your new Cognitive Behavioral Therapy toolkit, and a deeper understanding of intergenerational trauma, you emerge victorious. Just in time for your next quest: disputing the medical bills your insurance sent through to collections anyway. At least there’s a new season of The Bachelor.