Free example essay on Mental Health:
The Mental Health Parity Act (MPHA) refers to the law that requires the health insurance provider to cover mental health and substance abuse services as much as other physical health services. President Clinton signed Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 into law on September 26 1997. MHPA was headed by Senator Domenici whose daughter suffers from schizophrenia and senator Wellstone whose brother has severe mental illness. This act forces allows employer group health plans and health issuers, and others offering mental health benefits to set annual limits on mental health benefits that are no lower then the limits for medical and surgical benefits. Companies with more than 50 employees have to include mental health coverage in the health insurance benefits. A group health plan or policy that doesn’t impose an annual or lifetime dollar limit on medical and surgical benefits may not impose such a limit on mental health benefits. This parity is the first to promote equality of health insurance coverage for treatment of both mental illness and other medical illness. Before the passing of the MPHA, the typical mental illness coverage was $50,000 for lifetime and $ 5,000 for annual and typical medical coverage of $1,000,000 lifetime and no annual cap. Now I will discuss some points showing weakness of “Allocation”, “Delivery”, “Finance” and “Provision” of the Mental Health Parity act of 1996.
A major question is “who needs mental health parity?”, “what are the criteria used to determine eligibility” and “how do you know who needs help?” Currently under the key provisions businesses with 50 or less employees and those who do not offer mental health benefits are exempt from this law. This scope of parity legislation differs state to state. This inflicts enormous emotional and financial burden on individuals and their families. According to “National Center for Policy Analysis” ninety-one percent of the small firms and ninety-nine percent of large firms offer mental health. So that leaves nine percent of small firms and one percent of large firms that are not offered mental parity. This leaves many small employers to be exempt from the parity. According to “U.S. Department of Labor” it is stated that almost 40 percent of the employees with health insurance have health insurance coverage through self-insured plans and are not protected by state law.
Since there are no objective tests for “mental illness,” all kinds of socially unacceptable behaviors are considered mental illness. According to TIME magazine, there are at least 236 phobias, comprising about half of the more than 500 phobias psychiatrists give credence to and get paid to “treat”. It is said that the number of Americans who are said to be “mentally ill” reached 560,950,000 (which is more than double the population of United States of America”). According to Amy Fletcher’s research, $43.7 billion are spent annually treating Depression. Facts like these give the mental health industries an opportunity to pass off fraud and abuse as “treatment to mental illness”. In 1994, the U.S. Department of Justice collected $480 million dollars in fines and penalties for mental health care fraud. In September, 1998, Medicare barred 80 communities mental health centers in nine states from serving the elderly and disabled after investigators found patients were charged $600 to $700 a day for watching television and playing bingo instead of getting the proper treatment to cure their illness. The best solutions for such problems are to have mental health under their current health insurance. According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, “There is no satisfactory definition that specifies precise boundaries for the concept ‘mental disorder.’”
The delivery of the services has been driven by some extremely obvious vested interests – psychiatric clinics, hospitals and psychiatric organizations. Though the deliveries of the services are vast, 79 percent of the $480 million in fines from frauds were collected from psychiatric industries. Fallouts like such should put fear in the patients and the insurers from the fear that the patients aren’t getting legit treatments and that insurance company won’t have to spend vast amount of money in investigations of fraud.
The finance aspect of MHPA is the biggest problem created by this act. In 1998, Mathmematica estimated a 3.6 percent increase across all plans, with a range of six percent increase for HMOs and up to a 5 percent increase for fee-for-service plans. PriceWaterhouseCooper indicates a cost increase of around one to three percent depending on the type of health care delivery system. The cost of treating mental disorders rose by 84 percent of overall benefit cost in the first year of the parity. Once the parity was passed the insurers and employers complained that the parity raise premiums and forced firms to limit other benefit to give mental illness the same stature as the physical illness or having to cutback mental health overage due to the extreme cost of the plan. The congressional budget office reported that Health Insurance Premium (HIP) increased an average of 4 percent to 11.4 percent as result of the bill. They also claim that MHPA would run small business out of business due to the HIP. The MHPA will help increase the 16.3 percent of the U.S uninsured population to 28.3 percent.
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