The Mental Health Parity Bill of 2007
Last month, the U.S. Senate approved what will be known as the Mental Health Parity Bill. This piece of legislation will require group health plans with mental health benefits to offer them at the same level as physical health benefits. The measure does not affect individual insurance plans but only group. This bill certainly destigmatizes mental illness by not allowing mental health to be treated differently by health insurers. Some highlights include having the same deductibles, copayments, number of visits, days of coverage, and annual or lifetime limits as physical illness. It also includes substance abuse treatment.
It has been a long time coming for mental health to gain equal footing for physical health. If you have ever suffered mental disease or know somebody who has, you know that mental disorders are not simple to treat and can require prolonged periods of expensive therapy. Psychiatrists and other mental health providers have been financially squeezed because their reimbursements do not account for the extent of treatment. Many providers have been forced to limit their patient visits to 15 minutes in order to be able to make their practices financially solvent.
As a consumer of health care, I think it is great to know that I can access mental health care should I ever need it. Hopefully, the final version of the Bill that hits Congress and President Bush’s desk will not be too different from its current version.