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
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
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
Health Parity Analysis continued