Inequality in Mental Health Coverage

For Daily Kos, the story of the continuing struggle for equality in insurance coverage and treatment for mental illnesses. As Mary Ann Swissler reports, federal law has required that insurance plans treat mental and medical coverage equally, since 2008. But the reality is quite different, according to her survey of patients.

Excerpts: “In [a survey conducted by Swissler], 53 percent of the women called insurance “a barrier to care.” Those swimming in the glass half full will point to the 47 percent who called insurance “a helpful partner.”  When asked if insurance provided choice of therapists who understood their problems, only 46 percent said yes, insurance provided caregivers with relevant expertise.  Due to visit limits, 31 percent reported seeing her therapist for a shorter time than desired and 35 percent called co-pays “a barrier to care.”

“Consumers need to be vigilant,” and that’s part of the problem, added Los Angeles attorney Lisa Kantor. People seeking mental health treatment are vulnerable because of their condition and the stigma. “I think the insurance companies know this, and they prey on that fact…We need people to not take no for an answer.”