This Stopped Me In My Tracks

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Not much context I can give. Just read this. You’ll be glad you did. From TPM Reader SB

Would it interest you to hear about “Obamacare” from the perspective of a provider?

I’ve been a private practice psychologist for over twenty years with multiple institutional affiliations. When the Affordable Care Act passed I made the decision to turn my private practice into public practice by signing up to become a provider on the multiple panels that arose under the umbrella of the Affordable Care Act. Many senior people eschew such plans. The pay is anywhere from 33% to 50% less. The endless paperwork can snag one’s time. The clinician loses some control over treatment options.

Yet, the fact that so many different types of people can now get help for their mental health issues has become an inspirational part of my practice. While some of us would continue to work with clients who got into some kind of economic difficulties, or accept someone in need who found their way to our offices on a pro bono basis, for the most part psychological practice became a luxury of the privileged, especially when fees sailed up over $200 per session.

I always hated this aspect of my work because I knew there were so many people who really needed mental health care – sometimes those who needed it the most – and couldn’t get it unless I worked for free.

Now, I can see anyone who needs the work and still get paid (albeit less, but who cares?); and people in need can get the basic mental health care that can make a big difference in their lives. This includes students, artists, children from under-resourced families, the under-employed, the unemployed, workers with all kinds of jobs – especially people who would never have felt comfortable contacting a psychologist because they would have been too embarrassed to request services for which they couldn’t pay. Oh, the heartwarming stories I could tell!

We often forget the role of service in medical care – whether it be for physical or for mental health. The Affordable Care Act makes it possible to re-engage the ideal of our professions by seeing anyone who comes through our doors because now anyone can pay. The clinician no longer has to grapple with working for free or depriving someone of their basic human needs.

So, this is just another perspective of the positive side of this story. These insurance plans aren’t perfect but they bring providers much closer to the humanistic ideals that initially drew many of us to the work.

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