Originally published November 23 2013
Obamacare's new mental health requirement is massive handout to psychiatric drug industry
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Each passing day reveals more about a massive healthcare reform law that is doing nothing to "reform" and everything to further erode and eventually destroy the U.S. healthcare industry as we know it.
One of the things that Obamacare does is transfer wealth via crony capitalism. There is no better example of this here: On news that the Affordable Care Act, with its mandate that all Americans must buy health insurance, was going to pass, stocks for health insurance companies rose dramatically, as noted in this heated exchange in 2009 between former MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
In addition, the law goes further in picking winners and losers. So far, the losers have been the American people; millions are losing plans that the Anointed One said they could keep, doctors are being booted out of coverage plans, premiums and deductibles are skyrocketing, and Obama keeps trying to change aspects of the law that he thinks will help his party politically next year.
The winners: politicians, and the corporations who donate to them.
But every now and then, the law also throws its allies a curve.
'Mental health parity' will add loads to premiums
As reported by Forbes, on Nov. 8, even as the law was continuing to ravage Americans and the industry, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the face of the failed law, announced new regulations which mandate that health insurance companies cover mental and behavioral health to the same extent they cover physical health issues.
From Forbes' Merrill Matthews:
A "mental health parity" mandate was passed by Congress in 2008, but Obama officials claim health insurers aren't fully complying. (You'll just have to overlook the irony of the Obama administration, which has postponed several provisions of Obamacare without any legal authority to do so, complaining that others aren't complying with some law.)
The more likely explanation is the administration is desperately trying to redirect peoples' attention from the Obamacare rollout that has become a non-stop string of stories about failed websites, higher premiums and canceled policies.
President Obama's latest effort to divert public attention ignores a fundamental problem: it's much easier to know when a broken bone has healed than a broken mind. That ambiguity opens the door to overtreatment and fraud.
Health insurance companies and actuaries have quite a bit of experience in mental health; most states, in fact, have already passed some form of mental health parity for insurers.
But what they have always known, too, is that mental health parity is expensive. Matthews notes that, depending on what was required under policies, mental health parity was always one of the most expensive mandates, "adding between 5 and 10 percent" to premiums and overall costs.
"So while Obamacare is driving up the cost of a policy for many Americans by 50 percent to 100 percent, the new mental health rules will make coverage even more expensive - though it's difficult to know by how much," he writes.
Where the state-based mental health mandate once operated in a world where insurers could deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, Obamacare has now eliminated that practice. Fine, you say, it's about time; insurers should never be able to decline people who have them.
But the truth is, being forced to care for millions of new clients who have a known condition that requires much more treatment means insurance companies will have to make up for those expenditures. In short, that means higher premiums.
Ripe for abuse
Now, people with pre-existing mental and behavioral health issues can also sign up - once the government fixes its website, that is - to get subsidized coverage that comes with few limitations.
"If the past few weeks haven't convinced you the Obama administration never understood how the law would affect health insurance, this new effort should do it," Matthews writes.
It's not that those with mental health and substance abuse issues should not get the quality care they require. But the challenge has always been providing good mental health coverage while minimizing the potential for fraud and abuse.
"Hunger is also a social problem, and the government provides food stamps to help. But what would happen if the government removed limits, both in the amount of funds and duration of benefits, and allowed recipients to have all the food stamps they wanted for as long as they wanted them? Would such a program be ripe for abuse? That's what the president is doing with mental health," says Matthews.
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