detrimental to the overall health of human beings. Unfortunately, the law has fallen short of being able to enforce insurance providers to cover mental illness and substance abuse, or hold those companies accountable for administering the health care and medications for millions of people struggling with mental illness.
The Final Report Task Force of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act acknowledges that compliance with the legislation has been trailing behind the laws. It also acknowledges that the American public has the right to be informed about the criteria an insurance company considers for the treatment of a mental illness. It suggests companies can alter who can be treated and medicated for a mental or substance abuse disorder by establishing skewed company standards that don’t reflect the true demographic of people in need of medical care.
The report also expresses concerns that insurance companies are making the copay higher for mental health and substance abuse patients. The Administration states that if this is the case, those companies would be clearly breaking the law. The Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration conducted 1,515 investigations that violated the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act between 2010 and 2015.
The call for insurers to be held accountable for paying for mental health services comes from the Obama Administration’s expansion of health insurance to behavioral mental health issues under the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare). This is also related to the increasing premiums of Americans who are essentially paying for those who can’t afford medical care. A notorious argument against Obamacare represents this, claiming that in addition to increased taxes, the companies will redistribute costs of insurance premiums and deductibles to make up for covering people who desperately need health care for expensive, chronic disease such as substance abuse and mental illness.
With President-elect Donald Trump taking office in January, the Affordable Care Act is, in all likelihood, going to be repealed and replaced. The future of mental health and substance abuse issues that fall under the need of insurance coverage is precariously unwritten. Repealing Obamacare would result in a back-to-square-one position as far as health care is concerned.
Until it’s replaced with similar laws, repealing the Affordable Care Act will eliminate the significant expansion to behavioral health care and will continue to make it difficult to hold insurance companies accountable for treating those with mental illness and addiction.
President-elect Trump has spoken of “promising reforms,” but has failed to point out a specific policy. As Trump gets ready to move into the Oval Office, those struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues are hoping the new President’s plan will include adequate coverage for the treatment they desperately need to live a healthy and prosperous life.