mental health will drive you mad
May 22, 2012 6:08 AM   Subscribe

I need mental health insurance. Spouse's might have lapsed from the old job. The new job has crappy insurance.

Spouse had decent enough insurance to take care of my anxiety/depression issues at the old job, then left the job for another. Leaving was definitly the right choice. We knew the new job had insurance but didn't look at it before the job change.

I have about two months of my perscription in the medicine cabinent. I have an appointment scheduled for July, which is about the same time as my current supply will run out.

We're in South Carolina. When we were looking at private insurance before I was told that private insurance wouldn't cover mental health since South Carolina doesn't require it.

I really don't want to start moving back toward suicidal. How can I get coverage for cheaper than COBRA provides, or at least a way to get the drugs?
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It isn't ideal but you GP/family physician should be able to prescribe medication for treating depression/anxiety. If it is a new doctor then bring your prescription history from your pharmacy to the first appointment.
posted by saucysault at 6:13 AM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Do you have access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?
posted by FergieBelle at 6:17 AM on May 22, 2012

South Carolina law does seem to require some mental health coverage, according to this.
posted by mareli at 6:23 AM on May 22, 2012

Talk to your current doctor. Some of them offer therapy on a sliding scale. Paying out of pocket may be cheaper than COBRA. If not, then ask for recommendations of therapists that work on a sliding scale for payment. Many Christian-based therapy offices will do this.

Ask your primary care physician to prescribe your meds so that they are covered. If this is not a possibility, don't give up, many doctors will find a way to help you out. Ask your doctor if they employ a patient advocate. This is a person who can call the drug company to request free meds for you or coupons.

If you use an independent pharmacy then tell your pharmacist what is going on. He or she may be able to recommend a less expensive medication that will work the same as what you are using. He or she may be able to get samples or coupons for you.

People in the medical field want to be helpful. Let them help you.
posted by myselfasme at 7:24 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

South Carolina law does seem to require some mental health coverage, according to this.

It's only required to cover major conditions. Section 38-71-290 of the SC statutes requires coverage for:
(a) Bipolar Disorder; (b) Major Depressive Disorder; (c) Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; (d) Paranoid and Other Psychotic Disorder; (e) Schizoaffective Disorder; (f) Schizophrenia; (g) Anxiety Disorder; (h) Post-traumatic Stress Disorder; and (i) Depression in childhood and adolescence.
In particular, it doesn't require coverage for anxiety or depression in adults, as mentioned by the OP.
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:30 AM on May 22, 2012

Most MD's will prescribe for you without having to be in talk therapy. My GP prescribes my Celexa for me.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:35 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just pay out of pocket. Your doctor's appointment should be $150 (for 15 min consult). Even expensive meds can be cheaper than COBRA - I take 400mg generic lamictal daily and it runs $300 a month. This pales in comparison to my $1700/mo COBRA payment for 3 person family.

Look, I know it hurts to stump up so much cash at the pharmacy, but it really is a better deal.
posted by crazycanuck at 7:54 AM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Try looking for places that offer sliding scale fees. Some may not accept you if your wifee makes "too much" money. Other option is just pay for the appointment and tell your doctor the siituation and he'll probably give you a few months of refills so you dont have to pay again to see him. Try looking at patient assistance programs from the pharmaceutical companies.
posted by KogeLiz at 8:34 AM on May 22, 2012

Really you just need the prescription for the drugs, which I would also suggest either getting from your GP or paying for an office visit with your current mental health practitioner.

The actual drugs themselves should be covered by whatever prescription coverage you have through your (or your husband's) insurance. Providing that you have prescription coverage. Just because they don't cover mental healthcare doesn't mean the don't cover mental health drugs.
posted by magnetsphere at 10:32 AM on May 22, 2012

Nthing getting your GP to cover your prescription. In most cases, prescription drug benefits are covered whether the condition they're prescribed for is mental or not. My GP prescribed my crazy meds for years.
posted by KathrynT at 10:38 AM on May 22, 2012

Maybe it's not universal, but some variation on "Anxiety Disorder" and "Major Depressive Disorder" are generally what are used as the diagnoses when you are prescribed depression and anxiety medication by a psychiatrist. MDD is the same thing as clinical depression; the 'major' distinguishes it from subclinical problems that don't require treatment.

But I'll agree that if you have to, paying out of pocket is not necessarily that painful. I pay for my p-doc out of pocket, as well as all my prescriptions, and with nothing more than a free prescription card printed off the internet, I get what I need for less than separate insurance would run me. (Otherwise, I get minor medical care on campus, so I keep health insurance right now just for catastrophic stuff.)
posted by gracedissolved at 11:07 AM on May 22, 2012

As a data point, my insurance covers prescriptions, but turned out not to cover any anxiety/depression medications, regardless of if it's my GP or psychiatrist prescribing. I'd advise you to specifically ask about your medications and their coverage if you shop for private coverage. Don't be me :)

My mental health "hacks": My psychiatrist dropped the visit cost by $50 for me while I was unemployed, and he wrote prescriptions for bigger pills. For instance, I take 10mg twice a day. Rather than a prescription for 60 10mg pills for a month, he wrote for 30 20mg pills and I split them in half. That's cheaper for my medication, maybe it would be for yours? or are usually less expensive than my local pharmacies and aside from needing 2+ weeks between mailing them the prescription and receiving my medication in the mail, they do well.
posted by BigJen at 1:14 PM on May 22, 2012

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