Insurance responsible for mental health?

WHAT IT IS

  • With Senators attempting to rehaul health care in America, debate has sparked over insurance responsibility of mental health.
  • Stress is a physical reaction that causes the “flight or fight” response. “Fight or flight” is no longer necessary for survival; therefore, most people experience chronic stress which can have harmful effects on the body.
  • Depression is a mental disorder classified by feelings of hopelessness and sadness. It can be caused by biological chemical malfunctions in the brain, environmental factors, genetics, and personality.
  • Anxiety is a disorder often associated with stress and depression where the symptoms of both are intensified, and affects 18.1 percent of adults in the U.S.

WHY IT MATTERS

About 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older suffer from depressive disorder in any given year. Many that suffer from stress, anxiety, and depression do not get the help they require. 1 in 10 patients have insurance that does not cover the treatment costs, despite the harmful effects on the human mind and body.

  • INSURANCE IS NOT RESPONSIBLE: “Pre-existing condition?”

    • Why it couldn’t covered:   The Affordable Care Act requires mental illness to be covered, which is seen as unnecessary.
    • Born with it?:   Mental illness can be labeled as “behavioral” illness and therefore does not qualify for cognitive treatment.
    • Comorbid:   The illnesses can also be hard to diagnose since symptoms are subjective and treatment can be very expensive.
  • INSURANCE IS RESPONSIBLE: “Illness like any other!”

    • Biological explanation:   Anxiety, chronic stress, and depression can all result from chemical imbalance in the brain, providing support for a “physical” illness.
    • Curable:   All these conditions are treatable and are not necessarily permanent.
    • Why it could be covered:   There are several programs that cover mental health insurance, some of which are funded by the government and some provided through employment contracts. There is a push for more coverage from insurance companies.

WHERE WE ARE NOW

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT

  • The stigma around mental illness may prevent support for treatment, causing diagnosed people to pay penalties from their life and disability insurance providers.
  • Up to 15% of those who are clinically depressed die by suicide.
  • If we could see the effects of stress, depression and anxiety like we could see a broken leg, would that affect medical coverage?
  • Even if mental illness treatment is covered, is it helpful if the treatment is not adequate?