Discrimination: Mental health and chemical dependency overlooked in health care reforms
New data suggests that approximately one in four adult Americans that do not have health insurance have a mental illness, chemical dependency problem, or both. Although there are a variety of state funded health care initiatives that intend to aid individuals without private insurance many states are neglecting to cover mental health and chemical dependency problems. “Many states are trying to cover the uninsured but need to do more in these critical areas that affect one in four Americans,” said National Alliance on Mental Illness executive director Michael J. Fitzpatrick.
Mental illness and chemical dependency should not take the back seat to other health conditions; the fact is that mental illness is the leading cause of disability among adults and substance use the second. Commenting about the situation, Linda Rosenberg, President and CEO of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, said, “It is distressing that there are insurance plans and health care reform initiatives that continue to discriminate.” The following are some major findings of the report from http://healthcareforuninsured.org:
1. People with mental illness, substance use disorders, or both are prevalent among the uninsured. More than one in four adult Americans who lack insurance coverage have a mental illness, substance use disorder, or co-occurring disorder.
2. The scope of the benefit package for mental illness and substance use treatment varies greatly. Some state programs provide a variety of services designed to promote recovery from these disorders. Two state programs provide no coverage for either mental illness or substance use disorders.
3. Approximately 60 percent of the states evaluated had at least equal coverage for serious mental illness or mental illness compared with other health conditions in at least one of their programs for the uninsured.
4. Substance use disorders fare worse than mental illness in many state programs. Roughly 28 percent of the states evaluated have an equal benefit for substance use and other health conditions in at least one of their programs.