WSJ: Law Prompts Some Health Plans To Cut Mental-Health Benefits

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Members of the Screen Actors Guild recently read in their health plan's newsletter that, beginning in January, almost 12,000 of its participants will lose access to treatment for mental-health and substance-abuse issues.

The guild's health plan represents one of a small number of unions, employers and insurers that are scrapping such benefits for their enrollees because of a 2008 law that requires that mental-health and substance-abuse benefits, if offered, be as robust as medical or surgical benefits. By dropping such coverage, providers can circumvent the requirements.

Others that have made the same move include the Plumbers Welfare Fund, representing about 3,500 members in the Chicago area, and Woodman's Food Market, a chain in Wisconsin with 13 stores and about 2,200 employees. United Security Life and Health Insurance Co., of Bedford Park, Ill., dropped mental-health coverage in individual policies it sells in Indiana and Nebraska this year because it saw costs rising and some competitors dropping coverage, said chief compliance officer Robert Dial.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebatePsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life

5 Comments
Posted December 22, 2010 at 5:29 pm

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The URL for this article is http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/33906/



1. AnglicanFirst wrote:

You can’t offer benefits that can’t be paid for or which will compromise the availability of other benefits deemed more essential.

The lack of Congressional debate on the recently passed health care bill brought this situation about and stand by for more ‘unintended consequences.’

December 22, 8:26 pm | [comment link]
2. InChristAlone wrote:

This is what happens when the government tries to regulate things like this, they get exactly the opposite of the intended effect.

December 22, 9:52 pm | [comment link]
3. SCNCAnglican wrote:

This is the reality of “mental health parity,” which looks great as a social cause but just doesn’t work in the free market.  It also doesn’t work because of the way mental health disorder is classified, treated and funded. Mental health parity has been a rallying cry of certain politicians but just is not practical. And here you have the liberal Hollywood union rejecting mental health coverage for their own.

December 22, 10:22 pm | [comment link]
4. Dan Crawford wrote:

Let’s not kid ourselves, friends. Health insurance corporations have never been enthusiastic about covering mental health services - ask anyone who needed mental health services. Come to think of it, they’ve never been enthusiastic about covering any health procedure. They are much more interesting in covering the bottom line while at the same time gouging their customers for every penny they can get. The health “reform” was a joke: it was a corporate profit maintenance and enhancement bill. Ask all of us who discovered our Medicare Advantage coverage increasing by more than 100% over the past three years. Just keeping up with the inflation rate, eh?

December 23, 10:55 am | [comment link]
5. Malinda Hartwig wrote:

I think that they should worry about more important things rather than discuss this. The entire health system needs to be improved. What about an Amsco table in every hospital? What about more medical training for doctors? What about…? They never mention mental health in another context. I don’t think people know how important it is. It’s vital! All I read about is plans and ideas (bad ideas mostly!) but no improvement.

May 18, 7:23 pm | [comment link]


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