By Carol McDaid, Co-Chair of the Parity Implementation Coalition
Sadly, the average American family with a loved one suffering from addiction or mental illness lacks the resources to fight a three year battle with their insurer to get benefits they are entitled to - by law. Often afraid to discuss their illness with employers, they suffer in silence rather than using their behavioral health benefits promised by insurers. These victims become sicker and even unemployable – causing the burden of paying for their treatment to be shifted to the public sector, where taxpayers like you and me are forced to pick up the bill for health plans that simply will not pay their fair share.
Today, I use my skills as an advocate and former employee benefits analyst to fight for the rights of those coping with addictions and mental illnesses. I'm driven by the passion of my personal parity experience with insurance discrimination and my sense of justice and equality. Help for these conditions should not be limited to those who can afford to pay out-of-pocket or have the fortitude to fight long battles with insurers.
If you or a loved one have been unable to get your insurance to pay for addiction or mental health treatment, please share your story.
I've been in the halls of Congress fighting this fight since 1993. I realize that laws and regulations are complex and often take many years to be fully implemented. I intend to fight this fight as long as it takes to end insurance discrimination against people suffering from addiction and mental illness. But, to be successful, we need your stories and a collective sense of outrage.
Join me. Share your personal parity story by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Fight for your rights. Every 15 minutes in the U.S., someone dies from suicide. The clock is ticking.