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What would US health care reform mean for mental health?

8 Nov, 09 | by BMJ

“I look forward to signing comprehensive health insurance reform into law by the end of the year. ” President Obama sounds confident following the passage of the health bill through House of Representatives. Others are not so optimistic. Senator Graham from South Carolina says the bill “is dead on arrival in the Senate.”

Amid all the furore about the supposed superiority, or not, of health care in the US, there has been little mention of mental health. It’s not clear what the bill as it stands would add other than the requirement that all health insurance plans would provide mental health and substance misuse coverage at the same level (parity) as general medical care, which is obviously a good thing. Jessa Crispin from The Smart Set magazine writes here about the difficulties involved in getting treatment for mental illness in the States, and even with insurance the hurdles can be pretty daunting. I’d like to think that signing up for a drug trial just to get hold of some antidepressants and follow up care would be unthinkable here in our socialist or fascist (depending on your perspective) NHS.

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