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Americans fight insurers for mental health coverage as suicide is on the rise

On May 16, 2019, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that amidst a mental health crisis and landmark laws to ensure mental health care, insurers like United are building layers of red tape instead of making it easier for people to access needed care. Read more about a judge's condemnation of United's practices.

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, passed more than a decade ago, requires insurers to cover mental health care in a way that is comparable to other medical treatments. Yet, according to Bloomberg, insurers continue to deny mental health claims, limit mental health coverage, and find myriad other ways to avoid complying with the spirit of this extremely important law. In the midst of a behavioral health crisis, where suicide and drug overdoses account for tens of thousands of deaths in this country each year, patients and families have had enough. They haven taken these battles with payors to court, filing suits against the major insurers, but with a particularly bright spotlight on United Behavioral Health. In March of 2019, a judge found United Behavioral Health liable for breaching fiduciary duty and denying benefits. Bloomberg reports that the judge went so far as to say that “the insurer considered its bottom line ‘as much or more’ than the well-being of its members in developing coverage guidelines.” United’s response? The company requested that the court decertify the class action, so that only named plaintiffs would be eligible for any relief. We think this is a particularly disgusting example of United putting wealth over health.

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