Addiction in the Family: A Sister’s Perspective
Substance use disorder is a family disease. I know how losing a brother can cause an irreversible ripple effect on the family.
"I was stuck in the middle of an untenable catch-22 between the treatment facility and the insurance company, while my son was fighting for his life and my family was in crisis."
Even though I practice insurance coverage law and am an informed consumer, I was not clear on my rights under the federal law and how it governed my particular insurance plan. But I soon learned that claims for treatment of mental health and substance use disorders are not paid equitably as other health claims are paid, despite federal law that requires otherwise.
While substance use disorder does not discriminate with regard to who is susceptible to the disorder, recovery does discriminate. The disparate treatment by health insurance companies of substance use disorder treatment claims is just one way in which people are denied the opportunity to get well and recover.
I dug in, researched and tried to learn as much as I possibly could. The Kennedy Forum was extremely helpful in navigating me through all the many issues and in helping me decide what action I needed to take. To begin, I registered a Parity Act complaint in an effort to help end such discrimination. To help my own cause, I spoke with the insurance company care coordinator assigned to my son’s claim; I filed multiple appeals; and I filed a complaint with my state insurance commissioner. Each one of these actions helped to move things forward, but my family was still in crisis.
I am still battling the insurance company on issues that remain, but I have learned a lot in the past year. I think the biggest lesson I have learned from all of this is that I am my son’s best advocate. I had to fight for his life. I had to fight to get him into treatment. Then I had to fight to keep him in treatment. I had to fight the insurance company. The fight continues. I will keep on fighting.
Help fight for your family and for families like mine. This month is the 11th anniversary of the enactment of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, yet insurance companies continue to evade the law and deny treatment. Write to your Members of Congress today to pass the Mental Health Parity Compliance Act to strengthen enforcement and help provide coverage for millions of Americans struggling with substance use disorder.
Ask your Members of Congress to pass the Mental Health Parity Compliance Act to strengthen enforcement and help provide coverage for millions of Americans struggling with substance use disorder.