The news of the passage of the long-awaited parity bill brings mixed feelings from this corner of the provider world. On the one hand, behavioral health disorders will finally be recognized as bona fide medical conditions. On the other hand, though, I’m sure that many of our readers will mark the occasion by remembering those who didn’t survive the pre-parity days.
I recall a few years ago when an actively suicidal 16-year-old girl was denied inpatient care because she had reached her insurance plan’s lifetime maximum for behavioral health. (I believe it was $1,000.) We pasted together a 24/7 safety plan with her family and they made it through the crisis, but I remember wondering if this is the best that our society can do for its young people. Then there was the 15-year-old boy who had made several attempts on his life. He was denied admission at three different hospitals. We couldn’t prove it, but we were fairly convinced that his insurance plan wasn’t to the liking of those inpatient facilities. While the insurance coverage failed the test, the boy succeeded in taking his own life.
How many other victims were there, and how much suffering could have been prevented by just a little common sense in Washington? (If it had to have been about the money, our elected officials had no excuses because they’d been supplied with compelling evidence of the cost benefits of behavioral health coverage.)
Looking toward the future, we know that many families will benefit from this historic legislation. But let us continue our advocacy in memory of those who lost so much for such pathetic reasons.