You know, spending a large portion of my time worrying about only my mental health means that I can often forget about my physical well-being. Well, thanks tot he wonders of insurance (or rather, my insurance company being forced to accept me as a client), I got in to see a non-psychiatrist doctor for the first time since last March yesterday. It was interesting having to fill out all the forms, and I know that without my insurance, I wouldn’t have even gotten in to see the doctor – one other gentleman there was told he needed insurance to be seen by any of the doctors in the office.
To go from not being able to see a doctor, to a doctor’s visit that cost me all of $30 – including vaccination for tetanus, and whooping cough – is a pretty big change. And there didn’t seem to be a whole lot wrong with me, thankfully, at least not at a cursory inspection – my blood pressure could have been lower, but it was still within normal limits. Because I have no thyroid, and am on thyroid replacement medication, the doctor did order tests – a whole battery of them – which I could o at the lab down the hall.
I went over to the lab (having, oddly but helpfully, not eaten beforehand), sat down in the waiting room, and 15 minutes later I was having a ridiculous amount of blood drawn. I mean, really, five vials? I don’t even like seeing enough blood to fill one leave my body. But the woman who took the blood said that for a batch of tests that would normally run around $1000, it only cost me $15. How good is insurance, right? Then I tottered off to my apartment and lunch, my left arm hurting from a tetanus shot and my right one feeling worse the wear for blood loss.
It’s kind of amazing how much I took that kind of thing for granted before; while I was a grad student, I got health care automatically, and never really worried about the cost of doctor’s visits. Now I am keenly aware of how much it would normally cost me without insurance – and how much less it costs me with insurance. It may not be an ideal system, but I am certainly glad that I am now allowed to get insurance, and not bankrupt myself for even the smallest medical expense, simply because I have ongoing conditions beyond my control.
It also makes me feel sorry for the many, many sufferers from mental illness who will never get insurance, and never get the right kind of medical care – either because it is too expensive, or because they are afraid of the stigma that such a condition brings. It’s not right that mental illness is treated so poorly, but I don’t know that that stigma will change anytime soon. I hope that my generally well-written postings here go some length to prove that we aren’t people to be afraid of – we’re just people.