According to a nc.gov press release, North Carolina Governor Mike Easley has announced that he has signed into law House Bill 973.
This law requires immediate health insurance coverage of specific mental illnesses: “An act to require mandatory health insurance coverage of certain mental illnesses and to require at least a minimum benefit package for other mental illnesses.” This new law requires insurance companies to cover mental illness in the same way they cover treatment for physical illness.”
About House Bill 973, Governor Easley said, “This legislation ends what has effectively been a form of discrimination in the health insurance coverage of those with mental illness…requiring insurers to provide the same coverage for co-payments, doctors visits and hospitalization means patients will be treated fairly, whether being seen for physical or mental illnesses.”
At the moment, there are different co-payment amounts for different problems. Physical illness co-payments differ heavily from mental illness co-payments. It is extremely common for mental health treatment fees to be higher.
The new law requires that fees for physical illnesses be the same as mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, anorexia nervosa, bulimia, schizophrenia, paranoia, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.
“I’ve had depression for over a year,” said Amy Flynn, a North Carolina resident. “Even with insurance, it’s extremely expensive to treat and seek attention for. I’ve been hospitalized for it, and often my insurance won’t even cover at least half of it. With this new bill, people will be able to seek the correct treatment for fair prices and payments. Insurance companies will also be better off with this state government decision.”
“One of my children suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after the death of my daughter, her sibling,” said North Carolina resident Bret Garrit. “We had to seek a therapist, but with the cost, we were rarely able to. This bill is going to help out a lot of people, especially by lowering the cost of medical fees.”
North Carolina state Representative and bill sponsor Martha Alexander said, “Today is an historic day for the citizens of North Carolina…for too many years we have been unfair to those with mental illness and now these patients will be treated on par with other patients and not discriminated against.”
Rep. Hugh Holliman, William Wainwright, and Verla Insko also sponsored the bill in the House. The bill was introduced into the Senate by Senator Martin Nesbitt.
The law will go into effect on July 1, 2008. It was passed in the House of Representatives 116-1 and was approved by the Senate by a 36-12 vote.