Lacking Rules, Insurers Balk at Paying for Intensive Psychiatric Care


mentalhealth_onpageHealth insurance companies struggle with the concept of coverage for patients with mental disorders.  Mental health is it no considered an essential part of a person’s overall health?  Mental health associated expenses and substance abuse visits are not prioritized by insurance companies as other health related visits.

For instance, a patient that is on suicide needs to be kept on suicide watch.  Insurance companies are hesitant to offer coverage for this type of ongoing treatment.  Under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, was aimed at avoiding fights like this over coverage by making sure insurers would cover mental illnesses just as they cover treatment for diseases like cancer or multiple sclerosis.   The law requires larger employer-based insurance plans to cover psychiatric illnesses and substance-abuse disorders in the same way they do other illnesses.

Mental illness is difficult to treat and perhaps there is often little accepted medical evidence to support the range of treatments for many mental illnesses, like schizophrenia and severe depression.

Residential care is more controversial because frequent treatment is very expensive.  There needs to be huge intervention in how mental illnesses are treated.  There is much needed help in this area and the federal government has yet to write the mental health act’s final regulations for insurance companies.  The biggest problem with minimal coverage is that people continue to struggle with their disorders and they are not getting the help that they need.

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