Mental Illnesses Increasingly Recognized as Biological Illnesses – New York Times Reports on Parity Coverage

The New York Times featuring an article on mental heallth and mental illness

Today’s front page of The New York Times reports that long-awaited regulations will complete a generation-long effort to require insurers to cover care for mental health and addiction, just like physical illnesses.

This process began back in 2008 when the government passed the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. However, the laws associated with this Act have not been well enforced until now. Today’s new regulations will put into effect the 2008 Act and affect approximately 85 percent of the American population.

The regulations will ensure that health plans’ co-payments, deductibles and limits on visits to health care providers are not more restrictive or less generous for mental health benefits than for medical and surgical benefits. Significantly, the regulations would clarify how parity applies to residential treatments and outpatient services, where much of the care for people with addictions or mental illnesses occurs, The Times reports. Any geographic or facility-type limitations would have to be comparable for medical and mental health benefits.

Next year will be a turning point because "mental health has become too big to ignore," Paul Summergrad, M.D., President-Elect of the American Psychiatric Association and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine told The Times. "These are problems that are just too common."

A person who has a heart attack or pneumonia and goes to a hospital will routinely be admitted, with electronic notice sent to the insurer on the next business day, Dr. Summergrad said. By contrast, he said, if a person who is profoundly depressed and tried to commit suicide goes to a hospital, an emergency room doctor must call a toll-free telephone number, “present the case in voluminous detail and get prior authorization.”

Read more in the New York Times Article.

Article comments

this is so true.... i do welcome this new apprach to take care our mentally hill citizens

I will lobby for this indefinitely............. glad that this is being put out there. Although stigma is still attached, at least the medical community is being made aware. I suffer from MDD (major not manic). My entire family disowned me over 2 years ago when I was diagnosed. Depression requires family support, otherwise the disease worsens. I am a fully employed health care worker in a Directors' position and have attempted suicide three times. These diseases are so debilitating. Awareness is clearly the key.

It is wonderful that progress is finally being made. As a society we have to ensure that the laws and health coverage are equal for all of our citizens. For too long our friends and family members with mental illness have had to settle for substandard care that would never be allowed if it was another disease state. Mental illness IS biological and we still need to take huge steps forward to ensure not just adequate but exceptional care for those who suffer just as we take all other illnesses seriously. Please continue to support Mental Health care and advocacy.

I feel the pain for I have a son with mental illness.  The government keeps reducing funding and by doing this they're  closing hospitals.   There is no place else for the mentally ill to go except on the streets or by being placed on their own.  Some may be able to achieve living on their own but many need a structured environment so they don't relapse.  Prison is the last place for the mentally ill. Hopefully with the AFC act we will start to see an improvement.

About time. But insurers are not required to include 'behavioral health' coverage at all. Medicaid not affected. Medicare low reimbursement to providers and inscrutable requirements for an acceptable claim make practitioners who accept assignment extremely rare. Much still to win.

Mental illness is a condition affecting human brain which will influence his thinking,behavior and interaction with others.There are many reasons behind mental illness.

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