Meds

Advocating for Mental Health Coverage

Advocating for Mental Health Coverage July 6, 2007, 7:02 pm – It’s not often that a former first lady testifies before Congress, but Rosalynn Carter will be sitting at the witness table at a House subcommittee hearing.

Mrs. Carter, wife of former President Jimmy Carter and a long-time advocate for mental health, is testifying on bipartisan legislation that would require insurance companies to provide equal benefits for mental and physical ailments.

The bill, the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act, was introduced by Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island and Republican Rep. Jim Ramstad of Minnesota and has 268 cosponsors. It aims to make mental heath services and addiction treatment more readily available by barring insurance companies from imposing restrictions that aren’t required for medical and surgical benefits. The legislation is named for the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, a Minnesota Democrat who had long-pressed for a mental health parity law. David Wellstone, Wellstone’s son, will also testify at the hearing.

Since Sen. Wellstone’s death in 2002, a bipartisan group took up his cause, but the legislation had been blocked in the Republican-controlled Congress. With Democrats now in charge, supporters are somewhat more confident they can overcome insurance industry lobbying and pass legislation. But advocates of the House bill say the Senate version — introduced by Rep. Kennedy’s father, Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts – is too weak.

SOURCES:- Mary Lu Carnevale reports on an upcoming hearing. Copyright © 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc

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I omit my bipolar disorder on self-employed insurance forms. That’s because the price quadruples for health care even though I haven’t had an episode in over 20 years, take my meds faithfully and have quarterly doctor visits. My insurance coverage has NO mental health benefits, so I’d pay out of pocket for any problems, anyway. But if I admit to bipolar disorder, I can’t afford coverage for routine, physical care, either.
Comment by Anonymous – July 7, 2007 at 10:11 am

I am so sorry I ever admitted to having bi-polar because insurance companies will not cover. I pay for medical expenses out of pocket. For the first time in 55 years, I am voting Democratic as the Republicans haven’t addressed
the issue that is important to me – HEALTH CARE. Turns out that I was misdiagnosed and do not have bi-polar. Does anyone have an insurance comapany he/she would recommend to help me purchase health insurance with a mis-diagnosed bi-polar in my medical history?
Comment by Anonymous – July 7, 2007 at 10:30 am

Maditory minimum psychiatric coverage could be a bad thing for psychiatric patients. It takes away a patients ability to choose the type of coverage he wants. Many hospitals disregard a patients requests, especially if he requests to be released. A patient can protect himself some by choosing insurance that doesn’t pay for hospitalization or puts a time limit on stays. Most psychiatrists I’ve been too are also perfectly willing to list the less stigmatizing “insomia” or “general anxiety” as the diagnosis if a patient says insurance won’t paid for a more stigmatizing diagnosis. Let’s preserve choice. Patients who want full coverage can choose those insurrance companies. Patients who want more say in what the doctor can do can choose more restrictive inssurance companies.
Comment by Anonymous – July 7, 2007 at 2:13 pm

I do understand the need for mental health coverage and that a combination of meds and therapy usually works best for a lot of problems. However, the cost to most of us would be greatly increased health premiums as therapy is expensive. Many of us are already struggling to pay for health insurance as it is. I don’t know what the answer is.
Comment by Anonymous – July 7, 2007 at 6:48 pm

Benefits follow practice guidelines. Algorithms of many physicians ignore mental health aspects of presenting complaints. Continuing Medical Education requirements should encourage doctors to stay current with trends in psychiatry.
Comment by Dr S Banerji – July 8, 2007 at 4:25 am

As a practicing psychotherapist, I believe parity should not only be between medical and psychiatric coverage but also among the professional disciplines, namely psychiatry, psychology and clincal social workers.
Comment by Gabriel Russo, LCSW – July 8, 2007 at 9:12 am
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SOURCES:- Mary Lu Carnevale reports on an upcoming hearing. Copyright © 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc

Comments
Report offensive comments to [email protected]

I omit my bipolar disorder on self-employed insurance forms. That’s because the price quadruples for health care even though I haven’t had an episode in over 20 years, take my meds faithfully and have quarterly doctor visits. My insurance coverage has NO mental health benefits, so I’d pay out of pocket for any problems, anyway. But if I admit to bipolar disorder, I can’t afford coverage for routine, physical care, either.
Comment by Anonymous – July 7, 2007 at 10:11 am

I am so sorry I ever admitted to having bi-polar because insurance companies will not cover. I pay for medical expenses out of pocket. For the first time in 55 years, I am voting Democratic as the Republicans haven’t addressed
the issue that is important to me – HEALTH CARE. Turns out that I was misdiagnosed and do not have bi-polar. Does anyone have an insurance comapany he/she would recommend to help me purchase health insurance with a mis-diagnosed bi-polar in my medical history?
Comment by Anonymous – July 7, 2007 at 10:30 am

Maditory minimum psychiatric coverage could be a bad thing for psychiatric patients. It takes away a patients ability to choose the type of coverage he wants. Many hospitals disregard a patients requests, especially if he requests to be released. A patient can protect himself some by choosing insurance that doesn’t pay for hospitalization or puts a time limit on stays. Most psychiatrists I’ve been too are also perfectly willing to list the less stigmatizing “insomia” or “general anxiety” as the diagnosis if a patient says insurance won’t paid for a more stigmatizing diagnosis. Let’s preserve choice. Patients who want full coverage can choose those insurrance companies. Patients who want more say in what the doctor can do can choose more restrictive inssurance companies.
Comment by Anonymous – July 7, 2007 at 2:13 pm

I do understand the need for mental health coverage and that a combination of meds and therapy usually works best for a lot of problems. However, the cost to most of us would be greatly increased health premiums as therapy is expensive. Many of us are already struggling to pay for health insurance as it is. I don’t know what the answer is.
Comment by Anonymous – July 7, 2007 at 6:48 pm

Benefits follow practice guidelines. Algorithms of many physicians ignore mental health aspects of presenting complaints. Continuing Medical Education requirements should encourage doctors to stay current with trends in psychiatry.
Comment by Dr S Banerji – July 8, 2007 at 4:25 am

As a practicing psychotherapist, I believe parity should not only be between medical and psychiatric coverage but also among the professional disciplines, namely psychiatry, psychology and clincal social workers.
Comment by Gabriel Russo, LCSW – July 8, 2007 at 9:12 am

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