It's time for insurers to pay their share for mental...


April 02, 2002

It's time for insurers to pay their share for mental health

Jay Hancock blames mandated benefits for rising health insurance costs and, subsequently, for increasing the numbers of the uninsured ("Legislated health benefits cause loss of essential care," March 20). He specifically mentions mandated coverage of mental health crisis care as indicative of "well-intentioned" policy that "swells the legions of the uninsured."

It's astounding that Mr. Hancock fails to mention the spiraling costs of pharmaceuticals or insurance company profit margins as contributing to rising costs. But to target mandated mental health treatment as an undue financial burden to health insurers is the ultimate irony.

Apparently Mr. Hancock is not aware of the woefully inadequate mental health coverage most insurance companies offer. Although Maryland has a mental health parity law, insurance companies continue to skirt the spirit of the law by restricting access to needed care.

And those lucky enough to succeed in having mental health treatment authorized still face challenges in receiving prompt and adequate reimbursement.

People with private insurance have long accessed mental health crisis services. However, insurance companies routinely fail to pay for the benefit, preferring to cost-shift to the taxpayer-supported public system, thereby contributing to its current $50 million deficit.

Isn't it time insurance companies paid their fair share?

Lori Doyle


The writer is public policy director for the Community Behavioral Health Association of Maryland.

State's mandated benefits save money in the long run

Jay Hancock's column about insurance mandates is, at best, pennywise and pound foolish ("Legislated health benefits cause loss of essential care," March 20).

Who does he think pays the bills when a patient who didn't have a colon cancer screening needs extensive surgery and several days in the hospital for mid-stage colon cancer? Or when that patient needs follow-up treatment? Or a several-month stay in a hospice or nursing home?

Who does he think pays when that person dies prematurely and leaves behind a family, possibly without its breadwinner?

What Ben Franklin said more than 200 years ago still rings true today: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Eric Gally


It is with utter astonishment that I respond to Jay Hancock's column "Legislated health benefits cause loss of essential care." Not only does he casually dismiss essential health care services as frivolous, he sorely misses the mark when he blames these services for the fact that thousands of Marylanders are uninsured.

Services such cancer screening and mental health and substance abuse treatment save hundreds of thousands of dollars and many lives each year. This should be the bottom line.

These services are not the reason Maryland has so many uninsured citizens. The reason lies in waste and bureaucracy.

And there is no excuse for one of the wealthiest states to have such an inequity when it comes to coverage that should be an entitlement, not a privilege.

Jennifer Etchison Klingler


Anti-abortion protesters dare to defy our denial

Imagine the gall of those anti-abortion protesters ("Abortion protests draw parents' anger," March 19). They actually have the nerve to show us actual depictions of the abortion process.

What's next, photographs of drunken driving victims? Or Holocaust victims?

Maryland voters have voted their support of abortion. We just don't want to have to deal with its reality. In Maryland, we believe in choice, and we choose to kill the unborn. And we choose not to deal with the actual event.

"Denial with dignity" is our motto.

Kenneth E. Iman


Why aren't the people who kill Israelis terrorists?

When someone takes over a plane and crashes it into the World Trade Center, killing innocent people, he is called a terrorist.

When someone starts shooting into a church in Pakistan and kills innocent worshippers, he is called a terrorist.

When someone sets off a car bomb in Peru, killing innocent civilians, he is called a terrorist.

But when someone shoots into a crowded restaurant in Israel, killing teen-agers enjoying pizza, he is called a militant ("Bomb derails Mideast talks," March 22).

What is wrong with this picture?

Sonney Taragin


If Palestinians had tanks, the bombings might stop

There are two ways for the United States to stop suicide bombings in the Middle East: Send tanks to the Palestinians or stop sending tanks to Israel.

Robert Y. O'Brien

Severna Park

House continues to work to control pollution

Several quotes of mine in "House panel kills 2 environmental bills" (March 13) were taken out of context, creating an inaccurate impression of my relationship with the Glendening administration as chairman of the House of Delegates' Environmental Matters Committee.

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