Skyrocketing Costs, Increased Stigma, More Child Abuse & Fraud
An editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (“Wrong Way” Missouri, 8/31/2007) says that, Ã¢â‚¬Å“New U.S. Census Bureau numbers released Tuesday showed that the number of uninsured people in Missouri increased a staggering 15.4 percent from 2005 to 2006, from 668,146 to 771,682. Nationally, the number of people lacking health insurance increased by only 5 percent, to 47 million.Ã¢â‚¬Â
This is a problem because, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Increasing numbers of uninsured Americans are straining the health care system, escalating costs, inflicting untold suffering on individuals and their families and pushing health-care reform toward the top of the nation’s priority listÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬Â
On the same day, another article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Mo. changes plan for Bellefontaine Rehab center) indicated that, Ã¢â‚¬Å“the U.S. Department of Justice labeled the [Missouri Department of Mental Health] center unsafe and ill-equipped to care for its mentally retarded and developmentally disabled residents, who were repeatedly abused and neglected. Those findings came 10 months after a Post-Dispatch investigation found widespread mistreatment of residents at the center and at other public and privately run facilities overseen by DMH.Ã¢â‚¬Â
After a year of investigations, hand-wringing, and supposedly, reforms implemented in the Missouri Department of Mental Health, Ã¢â‚¬Å“on June 27, an annual federal review of the center resulted in a declaration of Ã¢â‚¬Ëœimmediate jeopardyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ on behalf of a resident.Ã¢â‚¬Â One could conclude that little progress has been made by the Missouri Department of Mental Health toward cleaning up its history of fraud and patient abuse.
What can we learn from these two articles? We might investigate why these articles are related: escalating health care costs, escalating uninsured, fraud and abuse in the mental health system.
With mental health treatment costing up to 300% more than general medical treatment, spiraling costs are imminent. Dr. Mark Schiller, psychiatrist and Senior Fellow in Medical Studies at the CaliforniaÃ¢â‚¬Âbased Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, states that Ã¢â‚¬Å“historically, psychiatric and substance abuse facilities quickly appear to take advantage of new insurance reimbursement sources. These facilities go on to promote their services extensively, leading to further increases in expenditures and ultimately higher insurance premiums.Ã¢â‚¬Â
An increasing percentage of mental health care costs go toward psychiatric drugs that can damage the brain and physically harm patients. Spending on drugs generally is rising at three times or more the rate of inflation.
In May, 2001, the Office of the Inspector General reported that one-third of outpatient mental health care services provided to Medicare beneficiaries were Ã¢â‚¬Å“medically unnecessary, billed incorrectly, rendered by unqualified provider, and undocumented or poorly documented.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Efforts by the mental health industry to require insurance companies to pay mental health care benefits at the same level as for physical health care (called Ã¢â‚¬Å“mental health insurance parityÃ¢â‚¬Â) are one significant reason why our health care system is in jeopardy.
Thomas Szasz, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, wrote in The Washington Times, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Advocating Ã¢â‚¬Ëœparity for mental illnessÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ is a hoax. The supporters of Ã¢â‚¬Ëœmental health parityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ do not want parity for mental patients: They do not seek equal Ã¢â‚¬Ëœlegal treatmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ by legislators and courts for mental patients and medical patients. What they want is parity for psychiatrists: They seek equal Ã¢â‚¬Ëœmonetary treatmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ by health insurance companies for psychiatrists and other physicians.Ã¢â‚¬Â
In short, mandated mental health parity is an effort by the mental health industry to have governments force insurers, employers, consumers and taxpayers pay for a service they will not buy of their own free will. It drives up the cost of insurance and has skyrocketed the number of uninsured.
Psychiatry and psychology should be held accountable for the funds already given them and irrefutably and scientifically prove the physical existence of mental disorders they claim should be treated and covered by insurance in the same way as physical diseases are.
Health insurance coverage for mental health problems should only be provided on the proviso that full, searching physical examinations are first undertaken to determine that no underlying and, thereby, untreated physical condition is causing the personÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mental health condition. Such examinations would be covered under existing health coverage.
For the full report, read the CCHR publication WHAT DOES MANDATED MENTAL HEALTH PARITY PAY FOR? Skyrocketing Costs, Increased Stigma, More Child Abuse & Fraud at http://www.cchr.org/index.cfm/17106.