Parity in health insurance is hard won, and we need to keep it

I don’t post much politics on this blog, but this one issue is relevant to mental health concerns.

Last week, the Congressional Budget Office released their analysis of H.R. 1628, the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.

However, the agencies estimate that about one-sixth of the population resides in areas in which the nongroup market would start to become unstable beginning in 2020. That instability would result from market responses to decisions by some states to waive two provisions of federal law, as would be permitted under H.R. 1628. One type of waiver would allow states to modify the requirements governing essential health benefits (EHBs), which set minimum standards for the benefits that insurance in the nongroup and small-group markets must cover. A second type of waiver would allow insurers to set premiums on the basis of an individual’s health status if the person had not demonstrated continuous coverage…

And the CBO explains why reintroducing preexisting conditions for people who don’t demonstrate continuous coverage would, over time, result in the community-rated premium group being basically a group of people who have preexisting conditions, with premiums too high for most such people to afford. But I’m leaving the preexisting condition issue out of this post, important though it is for people living with mental illness, to attend to the other part of the proposed waiver system, the one that allows status “to modify the requirements governing essential health benefits.” One of those requirements is the requirement that mental illness be covered like any other illness. This is a battle that has been hard won. I recall a DBSA conference where a man spoke about an argument that he had made for parity. He said he took two medications out of his pocket, and said:

This is for my ass. This is for my brain. My insurance company pays for the first, but not the second. So you can see that they think my ass is more important than my brain.

If this bill passes, as much as a sixth of the population may go back to the days when their asses are treated as more worthy of medical care than their brains.



Married for half my life to someone who lives with bipolar disorder. I live in California and work with computers.