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PIISD Off?

Private Insurance Induced Stress Disorder?

by RUSSELL MOKHIBER

Pissed off?

Maybe it’s your insurance company.

A Maryland psychiatrist thinks it might be.

Writing in the current issue of Psychiatric Times, Dr. Carol Paris lays out the diagnostic criteria for something she calls Private Insurance Induced Stress Disorder (PIISD).

“Mental illness can sometimes be triggered by abnormalities of brain chemistry,” Dr. Paris said. “But in this case it’s triggered by outside forces – in particular, large corporations.”

Dr. Paris lays out four criteria for diagnosing PIISD.

Criteria A: The person has been exposed to a traumatic insurance-induced event in which both of the following have been present:

* The person has experienced a health insurance traumatic event, due either to lack of access to health insurance, or due to failure of their health insurance to meet their health care needs.

* The person’s traumatic response involved intense fear, helplessness, anger, and confusion and was caused by financial considerations that seriously complicate their (or their patient’s) medical treatment and recovery.

Criterion B: The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in one (or more) of the following ways:

* Feelings of anger, frustration, and shame at the thought of one’s inability to access (or provide) needed care.

* Feelings of alienation from and abandonment by one’s countrymen and elected officials, precipitated by exposure to any form of corporate-controlled news media coverage of the health care crisis.

* Feelings of inadequacy, as an individual, as a family member, or as a physician/provider, due to the repeated inability to obtain needed care for oneself, one’s family member, or one’s patient.

* Avoidance of seeking, or providing, needed care due to fear of serious financial strain or even bankruptcy.

* Fear of an acute confusional state or other cognitive disorder following attempts to understand one’s EOBs (explanation of benefits).

Criterion C: Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness, as indicated by three or more of the following:

* Efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings or conversations about anything related to health insurance or healthcare.

* Efforts to avoid interactions with physicians, hospitals or health care centers that arouse recollection of the trauma. In the case of physicians, efforts to avoid patients who are experiencing health insurance trauma.

* Markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities.

* Feelings of detachment or estrangement from others.

* Restricted range of affect (e.g., unable to experience feelings of wellbeing)

* Sense of foreshortened future (e.g. does not expect to have a career, marriage, children, or a normal life span). In the case of physicians, does not expect to remain in practice, anticipates early retirement or disability due to consequences of health insurance trauma.

Criterion D: Persistent symptoms of increased arousal, as indicated by two or more of the following:

* Difficulty falling or staying asleep, due to intrusive thoughts about the health insurance trauma.

* Irritability or outbursts of anger. In the case of physicians, this often results in sanctions, possible loss of hospital privileges, and being labeled a “disruptive physician.” In the case of patients, it often results in suspiciousness directed at one’s physician, often being labeled a “difficult patient.”

* Difficulty concentrating, resulting in functional impairment and further jeopardizing career, health, and sense of wellbeing.

* Hypervigilance, (e.g., won’t let children play on playground equipment for fear of minor injury resulting in possible retraumatizing need to interact with one’s health insurance company).

Criterion E: The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Dr. Paris warns in the article that “this diagnosis is not currently reimbursed by health insurance carriers.”

RUSSELL MOKHIBER edits SinglePayer Action.