Light Therapy, Anyone?

Light Therapy, Anyone?

I have a beef with the insurance industry.

According to the Social Security Administration, I’ve been disabled due to my Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) since August 29, 2005. (Yes, I know – that’s a long fucking time.) For those of you not in-the-know, after two years of being on Social Security Disability (aka SSDI, which is NOT the same as SSI), you get to sign up for Medicare (unless you’re covered by a spouse’s policy).

You may or may not know that Medicare, which is a pretty good program, is also a very complicated and complex system, which is why so few people understand it. It is important to note that I’m talking about Medicare, the program for seniors and disabled people, NOT Medicaid (aka Medical Assistance).

The thing about Medicare is that, for the most part, it only covers things that happen in a hospital – surgery, inpatient treatment, etc. That’s called “Part A”.

If you want coverage for things like, oh, say doctor’s appointments, therapy, specialists, and most meds, you need to purchase a “supplemental” policy. I have a really good supplemental policy with Health Partners.

That can be the very expensive part. I have a really good supplemental policy, but it’s not so great with the meds. I shell out about $250 a month just in medication co-pays. My policy is just less than $400 a month. So, with that plus the $100-something I pay for Medicare, I pay right around $500 my for health insurance, plus the med co-pays. That’s half of my income right there!


You’ve heard of SAD lamps, right? (I call them happy lamps.) Also known as phototherapy, these are the lamps that give out a certain type of light with a certain amount of lux that help with depression. (SAD = Seasonal Affective Disorder. “Affect” = mood.)

Well. A while ago, my pdoc gave me a script for one. I took it to the home medical equipment store he suggested and was told that not only was it not covered, but it would cost me $371! I said, “I don’t think so” and walked out.

When I finally got the gumption to call Health Partners to find out why it wasn’t covered, I was told that I had gone to an out-of-network provider. Okay, fair enough. Where could I get one?

That’s when the HP guy told me that the lamps are considered “durable medical equipment”, which means there’s a 20% co-insurance payment for them. That burst my bubble a little, because I am b-r-o-k-e.

But that’s when someone on my support team (I can’t remember who) made a clever suggestion. You see, they sell these lamps on They have a very small selection, as far as I can tell, but they don’t cost $371!

They range in price from $55 for a “normal” one to $229 for a floor lamp style. I also saw one for $30, but it only operates at 5,000 lux, and I definitely want the kind that has been proven most helpful.

So, as many of you undoubtedly know, when you sign up for an Amazon credit card, they give you free money. I just looked, and if I’m approved, they’ll give me $40 to spend. Well, someone suggested that I apply for an Amazon credit card and use the “free” money to buy the lamp. I would only owe like $15 for the one I want.

This one has 2,200 reviews with an overall rating of four stars. I think that’s pretty good. I also posed a question on my personal Facebook page, asking the opinions of people who have a lamp like this. The response was overwhelmingly positive.


I was going to go on a rant about the insurance industry here, but why make a blog post frustrating and painful to read?

Instead, I will only say this: When will insurance pay the rather minimal amount required for preventative measures (of all kinds) rather than wait until we get so sick, we need much more expensive treatments? Does that seem like a (forgive me) stupid business model to anyone else, or is it just me?

Anyway, I’m going to do the Amazon thing. Fingers crossed I get approved!

Keep it Real, kids!

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