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Thursday, July 28, 2016

We live in a culture of mental health haves and have nots

Naomi Freundlich
Originally published July 4, 2016

Here is an excerpt:

Let’s start with enforcement. Multiple agencies oversee compliance with the parity laws, including state insurance boards, Medicaid, HHS or the Department of Labor, depending on how and where an individual is insured. Figuring out who to contact when there’s been a violation of parity laws can be difficult, especially when people are experiencing mental health problems.

Furthermore, although obvious discrepancies between behavioral and medical coverage are not all that common, according to Kaiser Health News, many insurers have figured out how to limit mental health costs through more subtle strategies that are harder to track. These include frequent and rigorous utilization review and so-called “fail first” therapies that require providers to try the least expensive therapies first even if they might not be the most effective. The KHN authors note, “Among the more murky areas is ‘medical necessity’ review — in which insurers decide whether a patient requires a certain treatment and at what frequency.”

A survey conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness found that patients were twice as likely to be denied mental health care (29 percent) based on “medical necessity” review than other medical care (14 percent).

The article is here.