Insurance Companies Stress Out Mental Health & Addiction

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) was enacted to help protect mental health and substance use treatment patients from insurance companies charging them more than those suffering from physical illnesses.(1) Unfortunately, there have been some disparities, as NPR pointed out in a recent news broadcast.(2)

Despite the fact that US law has made it mandatory for the majority of insurance companies health plans to treat mental health patients the same way that they would treat anyone affected by physical illnesses, many contest that there is still a great deal of discrimination. While, insurance companies have complied with portions of the law, they are still found to be more strict in their treatment toward substance abuse and mental health patients. Under law, deductibles and co-pay charges are no longer higher for these mental health conditions, however insurance companies appear to be making up for the loss by applying other “cost-control” techniques. Critics are calling out insurance companies for being more rigid when determining if an individuals treatment should be deemed ‘medically necessary’.(2) When speaking about her experience as a patient advocate who also runs the Parity Implementation Coalition, Carol McDaid said, “They [patients] end up with this perception that they have access to care, but when they’re in a crisis for themselves or their loved one, lo and behold, the care’s not available because of these cost-control techniques.”

npr-insurance-companies Read the full NPR article or listen to the story.