Tiered healthcare system U.S.

You get what you (can) pay for

I don’t know enough about the intricacies of our healthcare system to give a explanation on how they different insurances work and why some people fall between the cracks.  I just have been in or visited facilities that didn’t require private insurance and they are night and day from ones that my employer provided insurance covers.

My first hospital stay was after I had refused to get back in the car during a road trip. I ran to a mini-mart and asked the clerk to keep my parents from me. He let me stay there and called the police. I thought they would call my husband or sister to come get me. I guess it would take too long. The officer handled it well. He kept my parents seperate from me and listened to both of us. They he had me go into an ambulance to got to a hospital.

The hospital they took me to was a County hospital. I wouldn’t recommend it. I was confused. I wouldn’t speak and then blurt things out. They pushed a cart in the room with juices and yogurt. I wasn’t sure what to do, but I soon learned to take what I needed. There was a room full of cots. I would go and lay down on a cot. At night one of the other patients helped me find the linens and make a bed. I had been lying in the cold.


I was really anxious and I went to the front desk and wrote down anxiety. I think they thought I was med seeking because she ignored me. People kept telling me to talk to the psychiatrist but I didn’t see anyone where they were pointing.

There was one man who would be quiet and then yell out expletives. I would sit next to him and he was nice with me, but he would yell at others. I thought other patients were really therapists studying me.

At night, I thought I heard my family talking but I couldn’t see them so I walked around trying to find them. A guard was warning me to stay away from a line. Fortunately someone directed me to the psychiatrist at that point. From what I was saying she could tell I was psychotic and hearing voices. When she found I had insurance she worked to have me transferred to a different hospital. I wanted to go to Southern CA near my husband and kids, but they told me they could only find an opening in Northern CA near my sister’s. I doubt that was true, but I had no choice.

My sister said they tested me to make sure I wasn’t violent because it was low security. I don’t remember. She said they asked me the same question over and over and I answered it repeatedly. They gave me an ativan for the ambulance trip. I thought, where were you last night?

This new hospital was very different. They assigned us small chores if we were able, but there was housekeeping, rooms, meals, group activities. It really was nice but I am just pointing out there were the basic amenities. I had a nurse that was with me a lot. Maybe all day. I didn’t talk but he would give me my medicine. One time my family was all in my face around my bed and he made a comment so I asked them to back off.

There was a locked door but it was low security. The only thing is that my whole family was very involved in my care which can be good or bad. I felt sometimes people were doing what they thought was right and not listening to what I wanted. After my 3 days, I was on a 72 hours hold I voluntarily did a day program, but I really wanted to go back home. So, I made a therapist and psychiatrist appointment and left the program. I was still really fragile when I was home.


I had been spending a lot of time on-line before I was dx. It was a way to isolate but also my friends were there. My family really didn’t want me to go on the computer. I typed up a list of how I would like to be treated and they ignored it, just were upset I had been on the computer. My father said he wanted to know how I was but just was interested in medication. I sent him something on schizoaffective and told him, this is how I feel. My dx was bipolar at the time so he said that was a different illness and wouldn’t look at it.

A few months later I started having some visual hallucinations. The floors and walls were moving. There may have been more. I went to the ER with my husband and they admitted me. My depakote level was low. They increased it and the symptoms stopped. I was only in for a couple of days. That is the sort of thing I could have dealt with outpatient, but I was new to the diagnosis and didn’t know what to expect.


That was  in Orange, CA. The Dr I saw specializes in bipolar and said I was manic and had bipolar or schizoaffective. This was a nice hospital, but again, you have to have insurance. They have one side for people who are less stable and one where you can have more freedom. That time I was on the less stable side. Nothing really to comment but it was fine. I never like staying in the hospital but I didn’t feel lost.

1 1/2 years later I was back there. I thought i was there for deprogramming and research. I don’t know what I was doing that made my husband convince me to go. I think I was talking about mind control and staying away from a lot of people. I don’t remember much of that stay. I was on the more stable side and went to groups during the day. I remember it as being pleasant but I was ready to go home. I think that was a longer stay. maybe a week.

I have a friend who has medicare. She doesn’t have much choice in hospitals. I have gone to visit her. At one they just have a big open area with a tv and a room for meals and visiting. She says the staff is unprofessional and I have heard similar things form others.

She has also gone to a different hospital that takes medicare that she likes a little more, but it is not at all like the ones you go to with insurance.


My name is Lori. I am a wife and mother. My children are teenagers. I work as a peer mentor and volunteer for NAMI. I have been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type

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