The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act included a piece of legislation that had nothing to due with rescuing us from the financial abyss we faced. It will, however, raise your and my health insurance cost. It is called the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health and Substance Abuse Parity Act, and is buried on page 310 of the “bailout”.
The law requires that mental health and substance abuse provisions must be covered on par with major medical coverage. This may mean that I must buy coverage that will give the same limits for drug treatment and mental health coverage as for cancer, liver transplants, heart bypass, kidney dialysis, and other serious disorders.
The reason we have put limits on mental health coverage is to keep premiums and costs low. Being adults we understand that sometimes you have to make adult decisions and allocate resources to the more common and serious illnesses.
We also understood that unlike a heart bypass, mental health treatment seemed to have no end. Therapy sessions tended to go on as long as the insurance would pay for it, which thanks to this law could be practically unlimited. Some of the most abusive billing practices we have ever seen came out of this field; such as billing for recreational therapy for sending a busload of kids in drug rehab to Six Flags Over Georgia.
Could this mean that the limit for mental health coverage may increase from $50,000 to $5 million dollars? I am not sure because the Department of Labor and the Treasury will determine the final regulations; yes people approve laws that they do not understand because they have not really finished writing them. If this “parity” includes equal coverage limits, this will increase our premiums significantly because of the likelihood of such extended coverage actually being used. An option would also be to lower our major medical coverage to contain this cost. There are many government mandates that cause our health insurance costs to be more costly, many of them at the state level.
The end result is far more expensive insurance and less coverage for the important life threatening illnesses.
You are exempt if you have less than 50 employees. Why? If it is so critical that we would force it on larger employers why would we exempt smaller employees? Can they be exempted from covering cancer as well?
When the politicians complain about the high cost of health care, how much responsibility do they take for creating such laws that only make it more costly and unaffordable for more businesses and individuals?
Perhaps they believe that wizards on Wall Street and the moral supremacists in Congress must have been on drugs to have screwed up our financial system as much as they did.