9 of 9
BACKNEXT
Sue John: $336
Age: 48
Occupation: Full-time caregiver
Hometown: Seattle, Wash.

I have an individual health insurance plan with Aetna that I bought in 1985. The plan costs me $336 a month and is a decent plan. But prior to 2008, there was zero mental-health coverage, which was typical for individual plans.

I became extremely anorexic in college, and throughout my life, I received only the treatment that I could pay for out of pocket, even when my life was in serious danger. I have paid thousands and thousand of dollars out of pocket for treatment.

People that have had any kind of mental illness have never been covered under an insurance plan the way you would if you had a physical ailment. If a claim had to do with anything above your neck, insurance companies weren't going to pay. Even when mental health parity laws became a national mandate, they didn't apply to people who bought individual plans or groups less than 50.

In 2008, Washington State required individual plans to offer mental health coverage and, when I used that new benefit, I did extremely well.

Aetna had to treat a psychologist visit the same as if it were a visit to the general doctor. So for a time, what it meant was that I could go twice a week and pay $15 per visit. It was like a miracle. I never thought that I would have this kind of recovery under my belt.

There is no doubt my life would be very different had I had coverage early in my illness, perhaps I could even have had children.

But Aetna has now made the "business" decision to terminate my plan, which not only affects my therapy, but it also leaves me, at the age of 48, with few options for my health care. I am hopeful that I will find another plan, but by no means is that guaranteed.

Good health insurance with good mental health benefits really does make a huge difference in peoples' lives.

My thoughts on universal health care: I was born in Canada and my family is in Canada and I have a lot of relatives in Great Britain. I have relatives who are sick and they are not worried about losing their homes and savings due to high medical bills. For my relatives in Canada, there are some waiting periods, but they get care. So I am 100% for universal health care

My family up there can not believe that a country like the United States of America would allow a situation to happen like it has. In Washington state, we are required to have auto insurance. On my house, I am required to have home owners insurance. Health care is a crap shoot and depends on who you work for.

More galleries

Last updated May 01 2009: 12:50 PM ET
More Galleries
Tech's highest paid women Silicon Valley isn't known for its diversity, but it is home to a handful of highly paid female executives. More
9 reasons to be hopeful about women in tech These startups are working to leverage technology to level the playing field for minorities and women in tech. More
10 best states to retire in Forget Florida. Residents of these states are happy, safe, and have good health care -- all for the right price. More

Special Offer