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stressed out over insurance

How to maintain your mental health while dealing with insurance companies

It always strikes me as deeply ironic that Diabetes awareness month, mental health awareness month and Insurance open enrollment period all start in November (Happy birthday to me I guess?)

It is ironic because nothing messes with my mental health more than my insurance company, that I have to deal with constantly due to type 1 diabetes. Maybe we should have “Insurance damages my mental health and my diabetes awareness month”!

From tiny windows to coordinate multiple factions into action to get refills done. (Sure give us a week to get a prescription renewed, and a prior authorization renewed, and allow 3-4 business days for shipping!) And if your shipment does not arrive on time then just change everything about how you manage your diabetes until you can get back on your technology or regular medications.  I have been dealing with exactly this issue for over a month now. It is so easy to burn out on dealing with our insurance companies that we often just roll over and accept whatever table scraps they will give us because we just don’t have the energy to fight for our rights right now.

This is where I have been this month.

I have spent 6 hours on the phone, endless transfers while my Insurance company, my Pharmacy benefits manager, and my pharmacy benefits company all point fingers at one another but none of them resolve the issue. The formulary I was given showed my insulin as a tier 2 medication for $20/month. But when I went to pick it up the bill was for $120/month and they are listing the medication as a tier 3.  After so much time and emotion fighting for my legal right to pay the advertised published price (to advertise one price and charge another is against federal law under the Lanham Act, it’s a practice called a bait and switch) I was left exhausted and had to pay their $120 because I had no more insulin, and it was pay or die. That is a horrible feeling and just sucks the energy right out of us. And YES my blood sugar management has been terrible this month from the stress and fatigue of the looming issue.

So how can we fight these giant corporate issues and not burn out? How can we maintain mental health, diabetes health, and get fair treatment from our insurance companies?

  • First, we can do what we hopefully all did here in the US, we can VOTE. WE can make our voices heard at the polls. Urge them to eliminate the power of PBMs to control pricing, to hold  insurance companies accountable for  providing the services they are contractually obligated to provide, and to maintain coverages for persons with “preexisting conditions”
  • We can appeal to higher powers. Ok prayer is incredibly important to mental health for many people, but I’m talking about writing to our state and national legislators. These companies are big, but state and federal governing bodies are bigger. Make your issues known.
  • We can make it public. Reach out to local news sources. Newspapers, blogs, and even tv news sources. They love a good story about the little guy being pushed around by big pharma. These companies are huge, but they hate to be in the spotlight, they prefer to operate in secrecy.
  • We can TAKE A BREAK. It’s ok to not win every battle! Step back, regroup, enjoy life with friends and family, and live to fight another day.
  • We can fight together. Reach out to local Diabetes groups, social workers, the Better Business Bureau, and legal advocacy groups for persons with disabilities and ask them to partner with you to fight. One voice is hard to hear, but many together are hard to ignore. And a well-worded letter from a social worker or legal advocate can get a lot of attention.
  • We can ultimately fight with our $$$. If anyone we pay is not treating us with respect, honesty, transparency, and equity we can take our money elsewhere.
  • Keep perspective. We often feel like we are fighting alone against the universe. But we are, actually, all fighting together against companies made of people no greater than we are. And every battle I fight is also a win for others! It is a win for someone who can rest a little bit more between their battles because I fought mine.

My mother once taught me that we teach people to treat us by what we allow from them.

This is so true of our insurance companies!  This month I had to take a couple of weeks off from the fight, I had to regroup and recalibrate for my mental health.

But I will be back at it, and this time I’m bringing backup because it seems to me that nowhere is diabetes and mental health awareness more lacking than in our insurance companies!

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