Why don't insurance companies pay for mental healthcare?

Why don't insurance companies pay for mental health care the way they do for other physical conditions? Is it because we don't deserve it? Or maybe because you didn't ask nicely enough?

The Eating Disorders Coalition needs our help to get us help:

"Mental health parity is on the move in Congress. There is a good chance
that a mental health parity bill will soon pass. The Eating Disorders Coalition
is working to ensure that Congress passes the strongest possible mental health
parity bill.

There are two versions in Congress now, one in the Senate and one in the House. The Senate bill is good, but it can be stronger. The House bill is excellent and we strongly support its immediate passage without amendment. The EDC supports BOTH the House and Senate bills.

We need your help TODAY! Members of Congress want to hear from YOU, their constituents.

1. Contact your U.S. Representative and ask for "support for the immediate passage of the Paul Wellstone Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act of 2007, H.R. 1424, without amendments."
2. Contact both of your U.S. Senators and ask for "support of the Mental Health Parity Act of 2007, S. 558."

Talking points:
Insurance costs will NOT soar.When federal employees received mental health parity coverage starting in 2001, the cost to provide benefits increased by less than
one percent. In addition, productivity increased and absenteeism dropped. (Report on Parity for Federal Employees)
Managed care will STILL ensure that benefits are used wisely.Insurance companies will still play an important role in determining how resources are allocated.

To contact or support the Eating Disorders Coalition, go to eatingdisorderscoalition.org and get involved!


  1. They don't pay for mental health care because . . . no one is making them.

    I just got a bill returned from my new health insurance company--they have decided that individual psychotherapy is not "appropriate treatment" for anorexia. Why not? To fight it I will have to have time, energy, and determination. Most people don't take on the insurance companies so they get away with crap like this.

    They will pay only when forced to. So it's our job to force them to.

  2. Harriet,

    Right on.

    And I don't think insurance companies would ever extend benefits too far. Then they wouldn't be insurance companies.

    I had far less trouble obtaining treatment for severe depression than I did the anorexia, even considering all of the other medical consequences. Because they are willing to concede that depression has a biological basis; anorexia is the disease of young girls wanting to be thin.

    Maybe all of my insurance battles have made me cynical, but just because insurance agrees to pay for mental health care doesn't mean they will pay for appropriate anorexia/bulimia treatment.

    This is, however, a HUGE step in the right direction, and I intend to give my senators a large piece of my mind.

  3. The insurance coverage for ED's is a complete nightmare! And even when families/patients have insurance, so much is not covered, or maxed out way too soon before any real long term recovery has been seen. That usually runs into the therapy component- which, from what we've found, zero is covered.

    And it absolutely does not help matters when both the psych/therapists and Dr's are not working TOGETHER within treatment goals/plans with the families/patients.

    They have a pool of data, knowledge, and experience already at their fingertips- and yet they are all working in different directions, or towards different goals, not collaborating their work and actually using eachother to cross-reference; and continue to build a better understanding of this illness.

    After what I've seen in both practices- there is still alot of useless ego involved that really gets in the way towards assisting patients fully recover, and very outdated-undertrained minds honking their horns; or way too many residents, etc. involved that further clog voices of common sense and reason.

    The medical side is soley concentrated on "stabalizing" the patient- and then therapy, which is just as vital, is thrown out there with a huge list one literally has to pick eeny-meeny-miny-moe- and how many of us have had to go through costly rounds of therapists who are absolute incompetents?

    I'm sure the insurance co's love this chaos, and high expense. Just look at what they are charging and billing for pricey residential treatment centers- now there is a gold-mine!

    I'm telling you, whoever is manning this ship of fools, is loving every minute of it until something changes. And they know how all over the place, overburdened, and literally exhausted parents/carers are. All the less time and effort to devote to furthering the demand for recourse and change in the treatment and coverage for this illness. Well, we may indeed be tired; but not all of us have given up!

    How many sessions of bad therapy have we had to pay for until we finally threw up our arms and just knew we were being billed for the sheer $$-of it?

    Carrie, I think you also brought up another highlight that has been frustrating me in this insurance debate. And that is this difference in opinion still many in the med/psych community hold re the necessity of therapy for ED sufferers. If they think AN/BN is a "choice" to be thin, etc. like still so many do- why would insurance cover therapy? And better yet, the insurance companies can use this as a constant reject, etc. to not cover therapy/mental health care since we still can't a general consensus from the medical/pysch community.

    And again, this is why it's so essential these two branches of speciality begin working more together, cohesively to put the data and evidence together, so that we, as parents/patients actually have some weight to our arguments and concerns and a better protocol towards treatment takes precedence. We're still waiting for everyone else to play catch-up! Will be reimbursed for all this runaround?

    And what about those families and patients who may either be severely underinsured, or have no insurance? Will they be taken advantage of, financially devastated, and/or simply warehoused in the ghastly IP programs that love to drug-up the patients, and keep them there as long as the state pays for it? Worse yet, will they even receive diagnosis, or ANY treatment- or fly for needless years under the radar?

    It's a mess to say the least right now, and it really brings up many serious concerns and realities that the families and sufferers carry the majority of the burden for, both financially and emotionally. We really all need to have a collective voice in this area, and need to be heard.

    This should not be an illness that discriminates, but as most of us have experienced, it still painfully does.

    Families, carers, and patients need also to have the backing of the medically/psych community to voice their concerns within this matter. Very few involved are advocating actively in all areas for patient rights. Hopefully with the Mental Health Parity Bill getting some attention, this will bring some much needed change.

    But I also worry about the severe deficit in quality of care of what is covered by insurance. Some of the individuals we've had providing care for our d I would never recommend to anyone facing this illness, yet they are currently working in this field, and very often blindly recommended. It seems very costly IP is covered, but so much of the OP, especially therapy, is left uncovered. And can you imagine getting insurance co's to begin considering home-based care at this point for ED's? Frankly, I think is should be considered as well.

    How much $$ have we all increased in our food budget, uncovered therapy, a parent perhaps staying home full time to care for the loved one, (now down to relying on living on one income vs two earners)? One would be lucky to have an employer who would cover some flex-time, medical leave; etc., but what if you don't have any of those options?

    And at the other end of this spectrum is the QUALITY, (even quantity for those of us not able to find any in our state) of fully trained, credentialed, and covered ED therapists.

    This is an extremely important topic.

  4. Tracey,

    You're angry and I'm with you. The current state of treatment and insurance are abysmal, truly. But we have to direct our frustration and anger at the right people, right? The clinicians who aren't offering evidence based treatment - and insurance pays anyway - that's a problem. But the good ones out there who ARE doing the right thing can't be held responsible for what others don't offer - they are too busy doing the right thing, and there are only a certain number of hours a week.

    It is supply and demand. If we demand, the supply will grow. It is up to us as consumers to stop using clinicians who don't offer good care, and to encourage those who do.


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