For many of us, and for many years, the word, “insurance,” meant that we would pay for security in the form of medical and mental health care if and when there was a need. The idea seemed good because we thought we were taking care of potential high risk situations and hopefully the money we spent would produce high quality care for us and our loved ones.
In the new world of insurance, however, this idea has changed for many people. While it seems to be the case that some who were previously uninsured have been able to enroll there are almost an equal number who lost their insurance at the same time. Now, in addition to that situation, according to one report many are having real difficulty paying the premiums for their new insurances as costs have continued to rise even though the new law was supposed to reduce costs. There is some confusion, frustration, and a sense of loss for many. Many people I have spoken with are more afraid of the future now than before the law was passed.
Opponents of the Affordable Care Act are proclaiming that it will raise costs, result in rationing, and, as we have learned, many cannot retain the providers they know and trust. As I have watched all this roll out I began to wonder what the consequences will be for mental health. While there appears to be more people, families and children, who are showing clear signs of greater need for competent health there appears to be less available unless people can pay a very high premium to get it. There are more cases of depression, anxiety, addictions, autism, defiant children, and etc. In this situation, where the needs appear greater this seems to me like the haves get more and the have nots get less.
I believe the above suggests we ought to revisit the meaning of insurance and see if we can add the ideas of education, self reliance, and new approaches to mental and emotional health. Living more effectively may be the best insurance and learning to do more for ourselves may add to that. For instance, one website, FirstAnswers.com offers courses made available to users and combine these courses with coaches who provide help for less cost and if it is necessary licensed professionals are available on line. I know about this because I have helped write some of the courses. Further, the website AddPowerToTeaching.com uses the same method (i.e. providing inexpensive courses, along with coaches if people want help) where educational problems, parenting, and difficult children are concerned.
It is true that we might have to read and learn on our own, but then that would be a good thing especially if we could communicate with someone who can help us follow through with what we learn.
One school teacher enrolled in a course titled “Make Yourself More Effective” and went though it herself learning what both the research and practical aids could do to enhance her teaching. People are finding and enrolling in the FirstAnswer courses and learning they can learn, apply, and solve many of their problems themselves. This will not do away with the role of professional providers of mental health services. There will always been a need for competent mental health for us and for our families if and when we need it. But, it might be possible for us to need it less often because we will gradually learn how to be more successful.
If what I am suggesting is valid, and I believe it is, then now and in the future insurance comes from educating ourselves and finding resources that enable us to do for ourselves what we have relied on others for in the past. I think this might revolutionize life for some of us and our children because we would feel more confident because we know more, solve problems ourselves, and in the process live healthier and happy lives.