Last week Kathleen Sebelius touted a mandate that health insurance provide “mental health parity,” another new rule put into place by the Obama administration. There are already mental health parity rules on the books, but they’re making things more stringent. A recent Forbes op-ed makes the case that the rule will increase fraud, the cost of health insurance and the number of policy cancellations. Just what we need.
So while Obamacare is driving up the cost of a policyfor 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.
The state-based mental health mandate usually operated in an environment where health insurers could deny coverage for a preexisting condition. Obamacare is eliminating that practice. Now people with mental health, substance abuse and behavioral issues can sign up—well, if the bureaucrats ever get the website fixed—for subsidized coverage with very few limits.
Evidence is already emerging that those who have signed up are older than average, and they will surely be sicker—because they are the uninsureds most motivated to get coverage.
Furthermore, the mental health mandate could mean that millions of additional health policies will be canceled because Obama just expanded what’s considered qualified coverage.
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.
Of course, mental health and substance abuse patients should get the quality care they need. The challenge for health insurers has long been to provide good mental health coverage while minimizing the potential for fraud and abuse.
On the bright side, maybe members of the Obama administration will take advantage of this new rule and have their heads examined.