Saturday, April 14, 2007

Parity---What it is....

Okay this is something that is near and dear to my heart. So if I tend to go off on a rant just forgive me.
Parity---just what is it and why do we need it. Parity---in laymens terms is forcing insurance companies to treat mental illness as they do all other illness. Equivalent benefits and restrictions in insurance coverage for mental health services and for other health services.
As it stands right now that is not the case. So many people still do not see emntal illness as a medical illness. But it is---plain and simple---so why do those who suffer with a mental disoder recieve decreased benefits from insurance companies than those suffering from say , diabetes, cancer, or heart disease. But of course ther are those people out in the world who do not believe mental illness exists. Come walk a mile in my shoes for one day buddy and see exactly what it is like.

Here's an exert from an article over at the Brazelon Center For Mental Health Law:

Kennedy Tells Advocates No More Deals With Insurance Companies

Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) told policymakers and mental health advocates today that letting insurance companies define mental illness when setting limits on coverage is “bogus.” Kennedy and other policymakers addressed nearly 100 members of the mental health community during the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law’s “Working Breakfast” at the Columbus Club in Washington, DC.

“We can’t cut any deals with insurance companies,” said Kennedy, pointing out that United Medical, for example, made $60 billion in the last quarter alone. “We have to be clear here. Letting them define what a mental illness is and what it isn’t is just not kosher.”

The proposed legislation would close the loopholes that allow plans to charge higher co-payments, coinsurance, deductibles and maximum out-of-pocket limits and impose lower day and visit limits on mental health and addiction care. Kennedy told the advocates that challenges to the bill were all about insurance companies making more money.

The Brazelon Center For Mental Health Law is a go to resource if you are interested in fighting for the rights of those suffering from mental illness. They are big in the area of reform in the mental health field.
I know their are a number of readers of this blog who are consumers----I urge you to check out their site and see what you can do. They have a section on taking action---I've become a huge letter writer to my local and national legislative bodies. No one can truly understand the life we have ---the stigma we face----the despair----and that is when we are stable. It only becomes more important when we are unstable and in need of services we can not afford or have no access to.
I personally have been in the situation where I had to choose----okay do I buy my meds this month---or do I buy food. And that does not even factor in the cost of seeing my therapists on a routine basis and seeing the pdoc for med changes.

I am nowhere near alone---many are in worse shape than I ever have been. Not able to get their meds because they have no place to live. Not everyone is lucky enough to have support of family.
It is all well and good for our nation to help other nations in need---but charity begins at home---look after those in your own back yard first.....


Marla said...

Hey Girl!

This is so very important. There is no simple way to explain mental illness - you can't classify like cancer. Mental illness goes beyond anxiety and depression. However, Insurance companies do need to grant the same or equivalent benefits to those with phyiscal illness as well as mental.