The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t the one disaster inflicting devastation throughout America. The substance misuse and psychological well being epidemics have an annual loss of life toll thrice higher than the Vietnam Struggle, and each 5 minutes, an American dies from a drug overdose. This disaster has solely worsened all through the pandemic.
Sadly, our present system is constructed on well being insurers profiting off their policyholders, which actively works to worsen this nationwide affliction.
Insurance coverage firms flout the parity legal guidelines designed to make sure that mental-health sufferers (which incorporates folks affected by dependancy) obtain the identical degree of care and protection as sufferers affected by bodily well being situations.
This felony negligence is killing Individuals. The federal government should give parity legal guidelines a set of tooth to convey this unlawful, inhumane conduct to an finish.
As The New York Occasions reported, the pandemic has produced a humiliation of income for well being insurers, who doubled their 2019 income by Q2 in 2020. By the second quarter of 2021, 5 of America’s largest well being insurers reported a mixed whole of greater than $11 billion in income.
Individuals paid for medical health insurance all through the pandemic, however usually refused to hunt care in an effort to attenuate COVID publicity. Because of this, many struggled and succumbed to dependancy. In line with the CDC, an estimated 100,306 Individuals died from drug overdoses between April 2020 and April 2021. That’s 28.5 % greater than the earlier 12 months—the very best quantity but recorded.
Each 11 minutes an American dies by suicide. Suicide charges elevated by 33 % between 1999 and 2019, claiming greater than 47,500 lives in 2019. Forward of the pandemic, 12 million American adults critically thought of suicide, 3.5 million deliberate an try, and 1.4 million tried suicide. These numbers skyrocketed within the wake of loss, disconnection, and uncertainty in the course of the pandemic.
The mixed drug overdose and suicide deaths have claimed virtually 150,000 lives in only one 12 months—the equal of three Vietnam Wars or 50 9/11s.
The place is the general public outcry? Why are insurers and politicians silent on this problem? Do they consider sufferers are the architects of their very own ache?
In 2008, Congress handed the Psychological Well being Parity and Habit Fairness Act to make sure equal protection of remedy for psychological sickness and dependancy. That authorized safety ought to make it simpler for suppliers to assist their prospects, nevertheless it doesn’t. As a substitute, insurance coverage firms proceed to violate parity legal guidelines by illegally refusing or limiting remedy. Additionally they add exclusions to protection for behavioral well being providers, all in a bid to stuff their already bulging pockets.
In a latest report from the Labor Division, 4 insurers restricted or excluded medication-assisted remedy for opioid use dysfunction and had illegal pre-authorization or pre-certification necessities for behavioral well being providers. One other well being plan particularly excluded methadone and naltrexone as remedies for substance use issues, despite the fact that they didn’t have comparable restrictions on medicines that deal with medical or surgical situations. Insurance coverage firms refuse service to paying prospects, inflicting irreparable injury to households and communities throughout the nation.
Far too many policyholders are merely turned away or refused the life-saving remedy they desperately want. These compelled out of remedy facilities on the first signal of enchancment are left to die with no security internet of help and a clinically supervised transition into restoration.
In a latest class-action lawsuit introduced towards United Behavioral Well being Options, U.S. Chief Justice of the Peace Decide Joseph C. Spero discovered that the corporate had discriminated towards sufferers with mental-health and substance use issues to economize, inserting “an extreme emphasis on addressing acute signs and stabilizing crises whereas ignoring the efficient remedy of members’ underlying situations.” One of many plaintiffs misplaced her son after he was compelled to depart a residential remedy facility when their insurer denied protection.
State and federal authorities have to serve their constituents and implement mental-health parity legal guidelines if we’re to have any hope of offering the appropriate care to those that want it essentially the most. Insurers should serve their paying prospects.
Right now, parity legal guidelines are enforced with a gentle contact. In August final 12 months, United Healthcare was compelled to pay $18 million by the Division of Labor and New York State in one more case involving parity violations. Nevertheless, that’s simply one other overhead price for an organization making billions. Insurers can afford to let American folks die.
The Parity Enforcement Act was reintroduced on a bipartisan foundation in Congress in 2021, and 23 states now have mandated parity compliance reporting. However Individuals deserve extra: we are able to’t stamp out unfair and unlawful practices with out vital penalties. Presently, it’s less expensive for insurance coverage firms to interrupt the foundations, pay for a slap on the wrist, and let Individuals die within the course of.
Insurance coverage firms are financially motivated to make the most of their prospects, and Individuals are paying the value with their lives. It’s time for that to vary.