As Suicides Rise, Insurers Find Ways to Deny Mental Health Coverage

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From Bloomberg: “The U.S. is in the midst of a mental health crisis. In 2017, 47,000 Americans died by suicide and 70,000 from drug overdoses. And 17.3 million adults suffered at least one major depressive episode. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, a landmark law passed more than a decade ago, requires insurers to provide comparable coverage for mental health and medical treatments. Even so, insurers are denying claims, limiting coverage, and finding other ways to avoid complying with the law.

Americans are taking to the courts to address what they see as an intrinsic unfairness. DeeDee Tillitt joined one lawsuit in 2016, months after she lost her son Max. He’d been an inpatient for three weeks at a treatment center to recover from a heroin addiction and seemed to be making progress. His addiction specialist wanted him to stay. United Behavioral Health, a unit of UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest insurer, declined to cover a longer stay for Max. Reluctantly, his family brought him home. Ten weeks later, Max was dead of an overdose. He was 21 . . .

Still, winning legal cases does only so much to change industry practices. The United Behavioral Health suit, for example, won’t result in punitive damages for the insurer, because it was brought under a labor law, ERISA, which doesn’t allow them. ‘Basically, there’s an incentive for managed-care companies to do the wrong thing, because they know that at the end of the day they don’t stand to be punished monetarily,’ Bendat says.”

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Insurers reimburse billions of dollars to psychiatrists, which increases the amount of psychiatric treatment.

    Hundreds of thousands of people die each year because the insurers reimburse these charlatans’ treatments.

    What kills most in America? Psychiatry or mafia? Just the hypnotics killed between 320000 and 507000 people in 2010 in the United States! (Kripke, 2012, p. 6, “Conclusions”)

    Whoever gives a penny to a psychiatrist is himself a criminal.

    Kripke DF, Langer RD, Kline LE. Hypnotics’ association with mortality or cancer: a matched cohort study. BMJ Open 2012;2: e000850. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2012-000850

  2. “The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, a landmark law passed more than a decade ago, requires insurers to provide comparable coverage for mental health and medical treatments. Even so, insurers are denying claims, limiting coverage, and finding other ways to avoid complying with the law.”

    My condolences to the woman who lost her child due to the insurance companies’ greed, due to her child’s need for a longer treatment than three weeks for heroin addiction.

    But on the other side, I was very grateful my insurance company refused to pay for a lifetime of inpatient care, as a hospital psychiatrist had hoped for, based upon a “bipolar” misdiagnosis.

    Perhaps, the solution lies in providing longer hospital stays for addiction patients, who actually need longer stays. And a confession that the DSM disorders are not real diseases, so attempting to hospitalize the DSM defamed for life, merely because they have good insurance, is unneeded medical care?

    But I will say, I’m glad my insurance company refused to pay for more than two and a half weeks of inpatient services, since that was actually two and a half weeks more than needed.

    And my former doctor was eventually convicted for Medicare/Medicaid fraud, because he’d been medically unnecessarily treating lots and lots of patients.

    https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndil/pr/oak-brook-doctor-convicted-kickback-scheme-sacred-heart-hospital

  3. According to Burgess and his team, only drug prevention policies are associated with a decrease in the suicide rate. Mental health policies, mental health programs, mental health legislation and especially “therapeutic” psychotropic policies (which are used to “fight” against illegal drug addiction) are associated with a severe increase in the suicide rate.

    Burgess, P., Pirkis, J., Jolley, D., Whiteford, H., & Saxena, S. (2004). Do Nations’ Mental Health Policies, Programs and Legislation Influence their Suicide Rates? An Ecological Study of 100 Countries. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 38(11-12), 933–939. doi:10.1080/j.1440-1614.2004.01484.x

    Evidence That More Psychiatry Means More Suicide