A patient of mine , that rarely calls me, called me last week in a frantic state. He just received a letter from The Trustees of the Plumbers’ Welfare Fund regarding ”important changes” to his healthcare benefits.
I originally met this 43-year-old gentleman when he presented to my office in January 2006 with depression severe enough that he was contemplating suicide. Over the ensuing 10 months, I diagnosed him with Bipolar Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder (a combination that is fairly common). In spite of initially responding well to his medical regimen, in October of 2006, my patient took an intentional overdose of his medications in an attempt to end his life. Fortunately, he did not succeed and after his release from the hospital he was determined, for the sake of his wife and children to get well. I was equally determined to provide him the medical support he required in order to help him get well. By early 2007, we did it! Together we found the right combination of medications, 4 of them to be exact, that helped get my patient to remission, which he has remained in ever since. Now, just like the rest of us, my patient has his good days and he has his bad days, but he has not had a relapse of depression or suicidal thinking in nearly 4 years. He has been functioning to the potential that he always knew that he was capable of; and his talents were recognized by his employer and he has since been promoted to a management position and is an asset to his company. Things worked in my patient exactly as my training and experience as a Psychopharmacologist taught me to expect; when you get your patient’s mental health disorder to a complete remission, their functional capacity (performance) in every aspect of their life improves.
I am providing you with a link to the letter my patient received last week just 10 minutes before he called me to share the insanity. I ask that you read it and try to imagine how my patient felt when he read this letter.
I will leave you with this thought; the health care crisis in our nation is not, nor has it ever been, primarily about healthcare cost; it’s about productivity lost. I am going to attempt to convince The Trustees of The Plumber’s Welfare Fund that this is, indeed the case and I hope for their sake that these Trustees can trust me for they, like my patient, stand to lose a great deal by their shortsightedness.
I will let you know how it goes.
Mitchell R. Weisberg, MD, MP