Mental health coverage to become standard


††††† The U.S. Surgeon General stated in a recent report that 22% of Americans suffer from some sort of mental illness, including depression, anxiety and substance abuse. The annual cost to business in lost productivity, absenteeism and other hidden costs is $312 billion.

†† Increasing legal interventions is expected to ensure fair treatment of mental health ailments. The 1996 Federal Mental Health Parity Act, which prohibits group health plans from setting limits of mental health care unless the same limits apply to physical ailments, has been poorly enforced due to loopholes in the law. However, 19 states have already passed stricter legislation, and it is expected that stricter federal laws will soon follow, mandating coverage parity.

†† Continued labor shortages are prompting employers to preserve otherwise productive workers by encouraging early detection and treatment of mental health disorders. In the near future, companies that donít respond may find themselves in court facing discrimination charges.


Source:Trend Letter, April 27, 2000