Insurance Industry Battles Bill Mandating Mental Health Coverage

| August 28, 2002

Insurance Industry Battles Bill Mandating Mental Health Coverage

Mental health care costs can drain bank accounts just as quickly as medical bills, yet, legislation 'that would force insurers to offer the same level of coverage for mental illness as for other diseases' struggled to pass the House.

Kevin Bogardus writes in The Public I, that 33 states have passed similar legislation, and that the federal civil service system and even a reluctant President George W. Bush support the bill.

Nonetheless, the insurance industry fights the legislation by contributing more than $19 million in hard and soft money in the 2002 election cycle, according to Bogardus.

'Insurance companies make money by covering the healthiest part of the population,' Dr. Darrel Regier of American Psychiatric Association told the House subcommittee. 'By offering a poor mental health benefits program, you discourage those people from signing on.'

Victims of mental illness are not only stigmatized, but the costs of their treatment can cause unbearable financial strain.
--Sara V. Buckwitz
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