August 16, 2005

Oregon Mental Health Coverage

On Monday, Oregon's governor Ted Kulongoski did a big service to those suffering from mental illness in Oregon. He signed a bill that will force insurance companies to cover mental-health treatment just like they cover physical health treatments. Now insurance companies will not be allowed to put restrictions on treatment or financial requirements that are not asked for when covering physical conditions.

Oregon is now the 35th state to ensure that insurance companies cover mental health the same way they cover physical health. The signing of this bill is seen as a reduction in the discrimination imposed upon those with mental health disorders. Those who opposed the bill cited that it would make health care cost much larger, something that is not true in other states who have adopted such legislation. In states that have adopted a similar bill the "premiums" have either not raised or raised by 1-2 percent. This is a negligible amount when thinking of all of the people that this will benefit.

One example of someone who has suffered from the lack of mental health coverage is Kathleen Ris, "In the five years since their son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Kathleen Ris and her husband have spent $100,000 and wiped out their personal savings to get mental health treatment for him. Her son, now 15, is "doing better every day," Ris says, but the improvement has come after years of fighting with the family's health insurance company" (Cain, 2005).

Governor Ted Kulongoski stated this bill will be a step closer to ending the stigma surrounding mental illness as well as substance abuse disorders. Hopefully all of the states in the US will someday follow suit.

Original Source: Mental health coverage bill a law. By Brad Cain. August 16, 2005.


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