Democrats push for mental health insurance equal to that of physical health insurance.

State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) says mental illnesses and drug and alcohol addictions are no less significant than physical ailments. One Wisconsin mother agrees. Joanne Grassman’s daughter suffered from anorexia. Grassman thought she had excellent health insurance, that is, until her daughter needed psychiatric care.

“State law in Wisconsin says that insurers can limit the amount of benefit that they will pay for mental illness treatment differently than if my daughter had cancer or if she had been in a car accident or any other kind of what we might call a physical illness.”

Grassman says she has health insurance — and pays her monthly premiums — but it didn’t help when she needed it most.

“Parents should not have to incur a mountain of debt when treatment is available and you pay for health insurance. It’s just not right.”

Instead, Grassman had to take out a second mortgage on her home to pay for her daughter’s medical care. She says mental health treatment helps the patient, their family, and society as a whole.

Hansen, who authored the Wisconsin Mental Health and Substance Abuse Parity Act, says, unfortunately, those who need treatment often times can’t afford it. His bill would make vital treatment more accessible and affordable, but not mandatory.

The National Institute of Mental Health reports that one in four adults experience a mental health disorder in a given year. Seven states currently have similar health parity laws.

Jackie Johnson report (1:29 mp3)

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