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I received a notice from my insurance company that my doctor’s office had not billed them correctly. In the notice it showed the amount of the bill. I saw my psychiatrist for approximately 15 minutes and the bill was almost $400.

I know that if someone doesn’t have insurance and is paying cash, the cost goes down considerably because I negotiate medical fees for my father-in-law who pays cash when he sees the doctor.

Even if the cost goes down for people paying cash, how can a medical group justify charging my insurance company nearly $400 for 15 minutes of a doctors time? I don’t know how much of this fee my husband and I are going to have to pay.

I find this situation criminal. Everyone wants the severely mentally ill to seek treatment (because there can be, at times, terrible consequences if we go untreated), but at the same time, many people are blocked from receiving that treatment because of the cost of health care. We all know there are not enough community clinics, or places to be seen free of charge or on a sliding scale fee. Combine cost, and inaccessibility, stigma, shame and fear, and we have an unacceptable situation where it is possible that the most severe cases of mental illness are going untreated.

No one should have to suffer through symptoms that are manageable through medication/treatment. It can put the person who is ill at high risk of suicide or drug and alcohol abuse (to try and escape symptoms), and it can possibly put the public at risk.

I think everyone should have an interest in providing easy access to care for the mentally ill but a $400 bill to my insurance company says that this is not the case.

Please, if you ever get the chance to ask a question of one of the people running for a political office, ask them what they intend to do with the soaring costs of medical care, especially related to the mentally ill.

I urge you, if you can vote, do vote, and make sure you know where your candidate stands on this issue that can and does touch us all.

And as always, I recommend writing a few well thought out letters to your representatives, and even calling their offices. Our voices do make a difference. They really do.

$400? Something has to give and I don’t want it to be me, giving even more for care that is essential for me to function at all.