Whether we like it or not, prices around us are going up every year. In this article, we will explore some ways we can adapt our medical care to price increases. This article is not meant to address an individual’s specific circumstances and is only general ways of thinking that might be helpful in adapting.
Recognize being triggered:
Money is a subject that can evoke powerful emotions in people. For most people, not having money has given them pain. This could be pain through starvation or pain in the form of an unrealized dream. As a result, anything that threatens lesser money triggers most of us. So the first thing that we should do when we see that prices have gone up is to be aware of our tendency to be triggered.
Make conclusions when calm:
Deciding how to adapt is best done when our nervous system is calm. If our nervous system is in a state of fight/flight, then we might feel anxious, paranoid, irritable, or angry. If a person has this system turned on when they hear about the price increase, they might feel it is unfair or that other people are taking advantage of them. When our nervous system is in a state of collapse/defeat, then we might feel depressed, hopeless, disconnected, and numb. If a person has this system turned on when they hear about the price increase, they might feel helpless to change things or hopeless that they would ever get better. One conclusion that is extremely detrimental to one’s health is “I should stop treatment because..” Please make that conclusion when our rest/digest/connect part of the nervous system is active.
It’s ok to talk about money:
We all think about money. It is ok to talk about it as well. We grow up with the myth that a person having money is better than a person not having money. As a result our self esteem is affected when we fear not having enough money. And oftentimes we feel ashamed talking about it. It is ok to talk about money-related concerns with your practitioners.
Stages of treatment:
Treatment consists of various stages. In the acute stage, there are a lot more resources that are used. This is usually at the beginning of the treatment. The maintenance phase starts after the acute phase. Treatment at this time is usually a holding pattern. Its length usually depends on individual circumstances. For example, if someone is struggling with anxiety initially they might require an appointment with a psychiatrist once every two weeks for the first month, then once every month for a couple of months, and then once every three months for a couple of months, and then twice a year. So how the price increase affects your treatment, depends on which stage of treatment you are in. A person who is seeing a practitioner for 30 minutes every 3 months to get a controlled substance prescription requires different resources compared to a person who needs to be seen for 60 minutes every week to stabilize things.
Choose what becomes medicine:
Most of the time, there are various options available for treatment. Your practitioners know about these options. Please ask them about your options if one particular treatment option is outside of your budget. For example, if you are contemplating starting a medicine, you might decide to go for a generic medicine compared to a brand name, based on your budget. Similarly if you can afford one visit every two months, then it might be a good idea to start a treatment that can be safely administered with you being seen every two months. Similarly your practitioner and yourself might decide to focus on a social intervention rather than a biological or psychological intervention if that is what your budget requires. Joining a weekly meetup for meditation might be free as compared to mindful based stress reduction psychotherapy. Each has its pros and cons. Your practitioner will know about those.
Choose who becomes medicine:
Your practitioner can work with you alone or as part of a team. For example if you have to utilize your insurance because of your finances, you can still engage with a holistic mental health team. Some people keep their insurance based psychiatrist or primary care physician and are seen at our clinic. They stabilize with us and then transfer care to their primary care physician or in network psychiatrist again. If in the future they need another consultation or opinion, they come back to us to seek an opinion and explore treatment alternatives.
Level of service:
You can ask your practitioner about the level of service you are needing. Services that an MD provides are usually more expensive than services provided by a Nurse practitioner or Physician’s Assistant. You can look at your needs and who they can be best met by. Some services are more economical when provided by experts. An MD can educate you about nutrition. But your need might be sufficed by getting educated by a nutritionist which might cost less. In other words, use the correct tools for the job.
Use your insurance wisely:
There are things that your insurance covers. Your practitioner can sometimes know how your insurance will look at various treatments. They can sometimes guess (your insurance has the last say in everything) whether certain medications or tests might be covered. Similarly you can talk to your insurance about your out of network benefits and use those to plan your care. Once again please talk to your practitioner.
Plan an exit:
If because of price increases you cannot afford services then it is time to find another practitioner or clinic that is within your budget. A potential challenge can become easy to accomplish if you discuss this with your practitioner. Practitioners can help a transition often.