Demand Clear Rules for Psychiatric Health Coverage

Mental Health Parity

Target: President Barack Obama

Goal: Demand clear rules for insurance companies regarding intensive psychiatric care claims

In 2008, President George W. Bush signed a bill, called the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equality Act, that requires large insurance plans to follow the same rules for psychiatric illness and substance-abuse coverage as they do for physical ailments.  However, because no official regulations have been written yet, most insurers refuse to pay out if they see no significant improvement on the horizon.  This leaves many families on the brink of crippling debt, and causes great amounts of stress as lawsuits and appeals must be filed in order to receive the coverage necessary for treatment.  The bill was created to avoid these problems.  Now it needs to be clarified and enforced.

Despite the bill’s intentions to establish parity between the two, insurers still consider mental illness to be less of a priority than physical illness.  However, this is arguably because the bill did not describe how to create that uniformity.  Insurance companies have a clear standard of care for physical ailments, but lack adequate medical evidence supporting the range of treatments for illnesses such as schizophrenia and severe depression.  This makes it difficult for insurers to decide how to treat mental illness and how much it will cost.

Most questionable for companies like Aetna and Anthem Blue Cross are extensive hospital stays and intensive or frequent treatments at a doctor’s office or clinic.  Because the medical benefits of such treatments are unclear, some companies feel as if they are writing blank checks and are concerned about the potential costs.  The only way to gain clarity on these issues is to create a criteria for equality between physical care and psychiatric care.

Across the country, there are countless stories of families who, desperate to get help for a loved one, have succumbed to hospital recommendations of inpatient care at astronomical prices.  In many cases, insurers stopped paying after an average of six days.  The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equality Act must be enforced, and insurance companies need a criteria to follow.  Demand regulations that will enable this law to be upheld.


Dear President Obama,

In 2008, President George W. Bush signed the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equality Act.  While this law in itself is commendable, it has not been upheld because of a lack of implementation.  Insurance companies seem to lack clarity on how to define parity between physical and mental illness, and need the help of your administration to create regulations.

Countless claims for intensive psychiatric care across the nation are still being rejected, despite the mental health parity law.  This is causing your citizens to bear the burden of crippling debt and undue stress and hardship.  After being denied adequate coverage for the care of a loved one, many families have to endure legal battles in order to receive what should have been offered under the law.

While we recognize the part of the insurance companies in this matter and that they bear some responsibility, it is also partially the fault of the administration for not providing a criteria for them to follow.  Please address this issue promptly.  Create regulations that will allow the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equality Act to be upheld.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Wellstone.action via Flickr

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