When talking about insurance coverage for substance abuse and mental illnesses, people often assume that the problem is limited to the poor. That assumption is way off the mark. Even for those families with “good” health insurance, coverage is far from easy to obtain.
In my own experience, when trying to obtain coverage for residential treatment, you are often told the treatment can be obtained on an outpatient basis. In our community, that treatment could be offered at a community hospital, could be available only a few days a week, and is hardly suitable for an adolescent who needs detox, medication, therapy, group therapy, education and stabilization which takes months and years not days and weeks.
In my experience, even when our child was hospitalized for mania, the insurance company said that three days was adequate, the hospital disagreed and put us in touch with the insurance commissioner who obtained 10 days of coverage. At that critical time, when our child was very sick, it gave us the opportunity to have a diagnosis, begin a form of treatment and begin to look for long term residential care to begin to deal with the substance abuse issues.
Families who are looking for treatment for substance abuse and mental illnesses are often at their wits’ end. Not only is the loved one ill, the entire family is traumatized. It’s exactly the time when insurances are most needed and making families fight for coverage at their most vulnerable time is unconscionable.