1.0 Introduction

Rather than creating beneficial results, less stigma and better health care services, mandated mental health parity has caused catastrophic consequences. The Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act (S.543) forces something onto insured people, something that they don’t want to pay for.

No matter how altruistic it may sound, mandates drive up the cost of health insurance, and as a result, make it difficult for people to buy health insurance. This creates more uninsured.

Already, people living in states with mandated mental health coverage are almost 6% more likely to be uninsured than people in states without mandated benefit.1

Mandated health parity can increase insurance premiums by 25% to 40%.2 Mandated mental health is estimated to raise insurance premiums up to 11.4%.3 But with mental health treatment costing up to 300% more than general medical treatment, spiraling costs are imminent.

The new bill is estimated to cost the private health insurers alone another $3 billion. In the wake of the terrorist attacks and continuing threats, businesses are wrestling with a slowing economy, falling stock markets and a soaring number of layoffs—in fact, hundreds of thousands of workers. According to a Wall Street Journal article on October 8, 2001, “Insurance-premium rates are doubling for some coverages, adding an extra burden to companies already dealing with the global economic slowdown.”4

This is not the time to be burdening businesses with burgeoning mental health insurance costs.

Some have propagated that The Mental Health Equitable Treatment Act is needed to meet the needs of traumatized Americans following the September 11 attacks, that counseling is vital for as many individuals as possible.

However, a review of studies regarding disasters shows that the psychological treatment offered to individuals does more harm than good. Despite $4.6 million being donated to Columbine following the 1999 high school massacre there, nine counselors received nearly half a million, yet children felt more comfortable speaking to their religious leaders or among friends.

Indeed, Professor Yvonne McEwan, an advisor to the U.S. government after the Oklahoma City bombing, said: “Professional counseling is largely a waste of time and does more to boost the ego of the counselor than to help the victim….” “The rights of the victims are being sacrificed to keep counselors in jobs.”5

Studies that also claim the cost of mental health parity will be low or manageable are “flawed” and there is no evidence to substantiate that parity can reduce the costs of absenteeism in business or decrease crime and other social problems because of increased treatment availability.

The cost of mental health treatment is three times greater than general medical treatment, with a greater percentage of this going to psychiatric drugs. In one state, the cost of psychiatric drugs alone reached $148 million per year. Spending on drugs generally is rising at three times or more the rate of inflation.

These costs will do nothing but dramatically escalate with the new bill offering coverage for every “disorder” in the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic & Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), a billing bible recently voted by international mental health experts as among the top 10 worst psychiatric texts of the century—“a monster out of control.” Many mental health experts are critical of DSM because it lacks scientific validity and reliability. Even an APA task force admitted that “there are those who want some or all mental disorders designated as diseases in order to protect reimbursement and research funding.”6

Consider the following diagnoses from the DSM that will be covered under this proposed legislation: speech articulation disorder, spelling disorder, written expression disorder, mathematics disorder, nicotine use or withdrawal, caffeine intoxication/withdrawal, conduct disorder, opposition defiant disorder, and sibling rivalry disorder. Then there is the all-encompassing “Phase of Life Problem.”

Relying on DSM for mental health insurance coverage, which this legislation does, opens the door to greater mental health insurance fraud, which is already costing the country $20 billion and upwards per year. The largest health care fraud suit in America’s history involved the smallest sector of health care—mental health. After the FBI and other federal agencies raided the offices and facilities of National Medical Enterprises, the company paid out $1.1 billion in criminal penalties, fines and to settle suits. Psychiatrists were able to use the subjective nature of DSM to carry out this fraud.

Next: Mental Health Parity Analysis continued

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