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Monday, March 4, 2019

Suicide rates at a record high, yet insurers still deny care

Patrick Kennedy and Jim Ramstad
thehill.com
Originally posted February 15, 2019

Here is an excerpt:

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reinforces the seriousness of our nation’s mental health crisis. Life expectancy is declining in a way we haven’t seen since World War. With more than 70,000 drug overdose deaths in 2017 and suicides increasing by 33 percent since 1999, the message is clear: People are not getting the care they need. And for many, it’s a simple matter of access.

When the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, also known as the Federal Parity Law, passed in 2008, those of us who drafted and championed the bill knew that talking about mental health wasn’t enough — we needed to ensure access to care as well. Hence, the Federal Parity Law requires most insurers to cover illnesses of the brain, such as depression or addiction, no more restrictively than illnesses of the body, such as diabetes or cancer. We hoped it would remove the barriers that families like Sylvia’s often face when trying to get help.

It has been 10 years since the law passed and, unfortunately, too many Americans are still being denied coverage for mental health and addiction treatment. The reason? A lack of enforcement.

As things stand, the responsibility to challenge inadequate systems of care and illegal denials falls on patients, who are typically unaware of the law or are in the middle of a personal crisis. This isn’t right. Or sustainable. The responsibility for mental health equity should lie with insurers, not with patients or their providers. Insurers should be held accountable for parity before plans are sold.

The info is here.

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