Sunday, April 01, 2007

Mental health parity

Here in Wisconsin, we don't have mental health parity, a fact I often moan about. If only we had it, I often thought during my daughter's recovery, we would be able to get the treatment we need for anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders.

Parents in New Jersey, where there is mental health parity, found that insurers still discriminated against e.d. treatment, denying and disqualifying it in the face of medical advice. Dawn Beye is one parent who got sick and tired of waiting for her insurer to do the right thing and cover her daughter's treatment; she and other parents filed a class action lawsuit to have anorexia classified as a "biologically based illness." Apparently insurers in New Jersey differentiate between biologically based mental illnesses (depression, etc) and non-biologically based mental illnesses.

I guess they think anorexia is all in our heads. They ought to read NAMI's stance on this, not to mention the opinions of many other clinicians and professionals. But then we all know that health insurers know more than doctors when it comes treatment protocols and appropriateness. Right?

When I rule the world, we'll have national health insurance (which goes without saying). And that national health will cover evidence-based treatment for eating disorders, plus support families using the Maudsley method and other approaches yet to be discovered for helping their children recover from e.d.s.

Beye's daughter is still in-patient after 10 months. Beye and her husband still don't know how they're going to pay for her treatment. They could wind up owing several hundred thousand dollars if Aetna doesn't do the right thing and cover the IP treatment.

As my grandmother would have said, it's a shanda. And if you don't know what that means, look it up in Leo Rosten.

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