Friday, April 11, 2008

Mental Health Parity Pared

Long time, no write. I've been well, but overwhelmed by work. Must slow down the stress factor because as you all know, stress is ill advised when you suffer from a mental disorder. In fact, stress is ill advised no matter who or what your state of health.


I've been meaning to write on this topic because it's an important one to all of us who either live with mental health problems or have someone you love who's dealing with it. The Mental Health Parity Act, an amended version of the 1996 Act, was passed by Congress in early March. What does this mean for us? Well, for some of us, nothing. The 1996 Act provided enough wiggle room for insurers to limit benefits. They simply limited the number of visits to a psychiatrist or therapist, and upped the copays. Perfectly legal, then. The 2008 Act, which languished in Congress for way too long, has problems.

Did you know that if you are employed in a company of less than 50 people, the Act does not apply to you? Or if you are self-insured? Forget it, you're fucked.

My company employs less than 20 people, at least in the US division. I'm limited to 30 visits a year to my therapist and my psychiatrist. Fortunately, I can get along with that because my bipolar disorder is now well managed and my meds are working for me. But what happens to those who are having acute episodes of mania, psychosis, depression? Those who cannot be covered by the Act, with 30 visits, pretty much the standard, are still discriminated against. This must stop. The only way is a national health care plan that treats everyone equally.

I see this as a civil rights issue. Indeed, who among us have not felt the sting of the stigma attached to mental illness, who have been treated as an inferior specimen of the species, and now, treated unfairly by the government. Again. We have to fight for equal coverage for EVERYONE. I'm sure the Senate is collectively patting itself on the back for a job well done. It was not. If everyone is not included, then it remains a discriminatory piece of legislation.

With an administration that is contemptuous of everything, including this, we'll just have to wait for the change that I know is coming. In the meanwhile, the fight continues.

1 comment:

torKNITtoh said...

Is this the same thing as when insurance companies assign you a certain number of visits according to whatever illness you have? For example, if you have a substance abuse problem, you are granted 8 counseling visits and no more? Oddly enough, I just found out about this issue this morning. This is ridiculous.