The cost of mental health

I got laid off back in March. Somehow, the company had incredible foresight and laid off about 100 employees right before COVID-19 caused all the shutdowns.

For five months, I lived on the severance my company gave me and my writing and editing side hustle. Things became a little more desperate in August, and on a whim, I thought about looking at jobs at one of my favorite stores: IKEA.

I got my first set of IKEA furniture when I was 16, and since then, if I buy furniture, it’s from there. I applied on the day the job posting closed, and I got an email about setting up an interview the next day. I nailed the interview and had another with the hiring manager the day after. The pay wasn’t great, but I figured their benefits would make up for some of that. (I’d been paying $700+ a month for COBRA.)

I received a job offer the following Tuesday. Despite applying to at least a hundred jobs, I hadn’t gotten a single interview until IKEA. I accepted the job, and I love it. I started August 11th, and I started getting benefits September 1st.

With my previous insurance, I was paying $90 for every three-month supply of my antipsychotic. I paid $20 a month for my mood stabilizer.

I received benefits cards in the mail a couple weeks ago, and I learned they use Express Scripts. I quickly registered and looked up how much my antipsychotic would be.

$20. For a three-month supply.

$20!!

I am going to get a year’s supply of my antipsychotic for less than I got one three-month supply before. This makes me incredibly happy. That’s savings of nearly $300 a year. I’m not sure how much my other medication costs, but I’m sure it is less than the normal $20.

I cannot begin to express (ha!) how thrilled I am. I also anticipate my insurance covering a good chunk of my therapist appointment costs. When I was signing up for benefits, the interactive program talked about mental health and how that’s important.

I’m not getting paid super well, or anywhere close to what I’m worth, and that’s okay for now. I’ll have to hustle with my writing and editing, and I should be okay. I feel like I’m right where I need to be, and the benefits are icing on the cake.

I think $70 comes out of my bi-monthly checks. $25 for medical insurance; a couple dollars for eye insurance; a few more dollars for life and disability insurance; some percentage for retirement; and a good chunk for an FSA.

I think it’s worth it. I’m going to have to get skinny with my finances, but I’ve never had trouble saving and being wise with my money when I put my mind to it.

The only thing that really worries me is being able to pay my mortgage. My IKEA job alone doesn’t cover it. I did the math, and I need to earn about $1,600 a month with my writing stuff to make ends meet. I think I can do it. And I’ll also have a job starting in October at a preschool that will hopefully help as well.

A lot of people with mental illness experience prohibitive costs when it comes to medication, which saddens me. It’s like taking medicine is disincentivized because of how expensive medicine is for most people. It’s tragic because most people—especially those with bipolar disorder—already have a hard time staying motivated to take the medicine so important for their well-being.

I’ve been blessed with decent insurance and the financial means to pay for my medicine throughout my mental health journey. I don’t know what we can do about the current situation, but I do know paying $80 a month for an antidepressant (something a friend has to do) is ridiculous.

I don’t pretend to know the first thing about the drug industry. I have heard they basically extort people to get the medication they need. Costs don’t need to be so high, but insurance companies and drug companies seem to collude to get the most money for drugs that could and should be cheaper.

I’m sure many people in this community know firsthand what it’s like to spend hundreds upon hundreds of dollars on medicine each year, or the struggle to live without the medicine because of the high costs.

For that, I am truly sorry, and I hope things improve.

7 Replies to “The cost of mental health”

  1. I used to use express scripts until insurance changed it to another mail-order company. Express scripts is cheaper and you get meds In 3 month increments. I’m currently with CVS and they are pissing me off. I had a rx processing since Thursday and I am out. I’m glad to hear you like express scripts. I had a great experience with them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. CVS sometimes isn’t very timely or efficient, unfortunately. I always like the pharmacies that do 90 day supplies. Before express scripts, I used an online pharmacy called Blink. It was pretty good. Only had one issue, but they fixed it satisfactorily.

      Like

  2. I’m glad you found a job. I’ve been in and out of work for some time for various reasons. I’m fortunate that here in the UK prescription medication is subsidised by the state, so I pay just over £100 a year in total for three different types of psych meds.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Psychiatric care is patchy, to put it mildly. Most people would see a psychiatrist on the NHS, so that would be free of charge, but in practice it’s effectively rationed by long waiting lists. In my experience, psychiatrists tend to be overworked and as a result not always very attentive to patients. I’ve had some good psychiatrists over the years on the NHS, but also some awful ones who were useless. You can’t choose a psychiatrist, so if you get assigned an unhelpful one there isn’t anything you can do about it unless you can afford to be seen privately instead. There also seems to be a high turnover of psychiatric staff, so it can be difficult to see the same psychiatrist for the long term.

        Psychotherapy is in a similar situation. The NHS tends to push people towards CBT regardless of the nature of their issues, because of a belief that most people respond quickly to CBT, thus keeping down the waiting lists. I eventually gave up looking for long-term psychodynamic therapy on the NHS and went to the private sector, but not everyone can afford that. Because, in theory, the NHS will cover most health issues for free (or out of taxes, depending on how you look at it), most people in the UK don’t have private healthcare, but then sometimes they discover that the NHS doesn’t help and get stuck.

        Liked by 1 person

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