This is the time of year when I have the best ideas for blog entries. I’m on my bike a lot, and as I ride, funny and interesting thoughts seem to just occur to me, usually a couple of them per ride. The biggest challenge I have is remembering all the ideas long enough after the ride that I can jot them down to do the post on later.
I currently have a backlog of 18 post ideas; it makes sitting down and actually writing this blog so easy, because instead of the “what should I write about today?” question, I get to choose which idea I want to write about.
So this morning I sat down and started doing the Photoshop work for the post I wanted to write (illustrations were necessary for this idea).
And that’s when I got the call from Cigna, the insurance company my employer uses.
Cigna says that as of today, they will no longer cover the program my son is in to help with his severe depression.
And obviously I am no longer in a mood to write anything funny at all.
A Little About Depression
Depression comes hand in hand with cancer. One of the things I haven’t talked about in this blog (but will in my Fight Like Susan book) is the depression Susan had to battle after she finished treatment the first time she had cancer.
It was around that time that my son started showing signs of depression, too.
Now, many years — and doctor visits and therapists and psychiatrists — later, he’s still fighting depression, which has only become worse, to the point that it is essentially debilitating.
A Program That Works
But I recently found a program that was helping. A comprehensive program, with academic, therapeutic, and psychiatric aspects combined. For the past two weeks, he’s been there eight hours a day, five days a week.
His progress hasn’t been fast — you don’t overcome depression fast — but it has been progress, for the first time, ever.
And that’s where the phone call from Cigna comes in. They believe he doesn’t need this level of treatment. It isn’t medically necessary. Visits to a psychiatrist and maybe a counsellor should be sufficient.
Right, because that’s been so successful so far.
Today we did what is called an “expedited appeal,” which is where the doctor that’s working with my son talks with one of Cigna’s doctors and tries to convince the Cigna doctor that my son actually needs the help he’s getting — that it’s not just for entertainment or free babysitting or whatever.
The Cigna doctor turned down the doctor caring for my son immediately and easily, saying that since my son is not in “imminent danger” — he is not actively attempting to kill himself — this level of care is unnecessary. A weekly visit to his therapist should do the trick.
So now we’re at the next level of appeal. The doctor caring for Brice isn’t particularly hopeful; Cigna seems to be pretty comfortable with the word “no.”
After that, I have to start looking at other options. Raiding my 401K. Asking parents for money. Telling my son I’m sorry, but he’ll just have to soldier on as best as he can. After all, it’s not like depression is a real disease, and it’s not like he has cause, right? Buck up, kid.
OK, that last sentence started letting the anger and bitterness out a little bit more than I wanted. I’m going to leave it in there just so you can see what I’m trying to hold back here.
So, maybe you can help. Maybe you work at Cigna, or know someone who does. Or maybe you might want to email them or tweet something to @Cigna and @Cignaquestions.
I don’t know if any of that will help. I really don’t. Maybe it will even make things worse for me.
But this is my son.
And this is what Cigna is supposed to do.
And they’re not doing it.