Thursday, July 12, 2007

Call To Action

I'm a big advocate for human rights. I'm also very active on the political scene. I believe you aren't happy with things then exercise your rights to fight for change. The first and foremost is the right to vote. All that being said, I want to share some things with you from NAMI-National Alliance on Mental Illness.

The 2008 Presidential Primaries
Bringing Mental Healthcare to the Ballot

NAMI is committed to raising awareness of mental health issues in the presidential primaries. NAMI is non-partisan and does not endorse candidates. However, we do provide accurate information to educate campaigns on mental health issues. We also provide information on how members can raise awareness and make a difference. This is important because it is by speaking out and getting involved that we can shape how America treats people who live with mental illness.

NAMI’s presidential primary materials (below) can be used to inform presidential and congressional campaigns, to partner with other organizations who share similar goals and interests, and to familiarize the public and media with key mental health issues.

  1. Ten Simple Ways To Make A Difference
  2. Policy Action Agenda
  3. Action Agenda Summary (one-page summary of Action Agenda recommendations)
  4. Candidate Questions (questions suitable for use in public forums)
  5. 2008 Presidential Primary Schedule
  6. NAMI Fact Sheet
  7. "Bringing Mental Healthcare to the Ballot" Folder Labels

Also another thing that is going on in congress is the push for Mental Health Parity. There is actually a law in place--The Mental Health Parity Act.

The Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 (MHPA) is a federal law that may prevent your group health plan from placing annual or lifetime dollar limits on mental health benefits that are lower - less favorable - than annual or lifetime dollar limits for medical and surgical benefits offered under the plan.

Although the law requires "parity," or equivalence, with regard to dollar limits, MHPA does NOT require group health plans and their health insurance issuers to include mental health coverage in their benefits package. The law's requirements apply only to group health plans and their health insurance issuers that include mental health benefits in their benefits packages.

Group health plans may impose some restrictions on mental health benefits and still comply with the law. MHPA does NOT prohibit group health plans from:

Increasing co-payments or limiting the number of visits for mental health benefits;

Imposing limits on the number of covered visits, even if the plan does not impose similar visit limits for medical and surgical benefits; and

Having a different cost-sharing arrangement, such as higher coinsurance payments, for mental health benefits as compared to medical and surgical benefits.
This is from the Mental Health America website:

Parity News

Why Mental Health Parity Makes Economic Sense

Without Parity, We Waste Money.

  • The combined indirect and related costs of mental illness, including costs of lost productivity, lost earnings due to illness, and social costs are estimated to total at least $113 billion annually.
  • Clinical depression alone costs the U.S. $43.7 billion annually, including workplace costs for absenteeism and lost productivity ($23.8 billion), direct cots for treatment and rehabilitation ($12.4 billion), and lost earning due to depression-induced suicides ($7.5 billion).

Parity is Affordable.

  • Introducing mental health parity in conjunction with managed care results in a 30 to 50 percent decrease in total mental health costs. In systems that are already using managed care, implementing parity results in a less than one percent increase in health care costs.
  • In Minnesota, Blue Cross/Blue Shield reduced its insurance premiums by five to six percent after one year’s experience under the state’s comprehensive parity law

Parity Improves Access to Services and Saves Money.

  • While the estimated annual cost to the nation of providing mental health coverage commensurate to physical health coverage for all children and adults is $6.5 billion, it is also estimated that this mental health coverage would result in savings for general medical services and indirect costs in the amount of $8.7 billion - a net annual savings of $2.2 billion.
  • Studies have found that overall medical care costs decrease for those using behavioral healthcare services, when such costs were generally increasing.
  • Employment Assistance Programs (EAPs) have proven to be cost-effective. Chevron, Corp. saved seven dollars for every dollar it spent on their EAP; Campbell Soup Company had a 28 percent reduction in mental healthcare costs; and Virginia Power realized a 23 percent drop in medical claims over a four-year period for individuals who accessed the EAP compared with those who accessed behavioral health benefits on their own.
  • At McDonnell Douglas, absenteeism dropped 44 percent for employees treated for substance abuse issues, and they set the three-year value of employee assistance services at $4.4 million in medical claims. When the Kennecott Copper Corporation provided mental health counseling for employees, its hospital, medical, and surgical costs decreased 48.9 percent.

And the biggest point I want to make---it is just plain WRONG to discriminate for any reason. I personally pay 5 times as much copay to see my pdoc and therapist as to see a "medical" doc. And don't even get me started on how they are with drug coverages for psych disorders. You can take action now by using this link.


Anonymous said...

Great, great post, and very informative too! Thank you!