What Americans Need To Know About Health Insurance For Mental Illness

NAMI Releases New Equal Coverage Kit in Conjunction With Brain Awareness Week, March 16 - 22, 1998

Mar 13 1998

Arlinton, VA - With the federal Mental Health Parity Act ushering in a new era in insurance coverage for persons with severe mental illness, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill released today its new NAMI Equal Coverage Kit to help families understand how this modest anti-discrimination law may help them get essential medical treatment.

Released in conjunction with Brain Awareness Week, March 16 - 22, 1998, the NAMI Equal Coverage Kit explains what the new federal law does, describes the shortcomings of the measure, and answers common questions about the new law: · Who is most helped by the law? · What illnesses are covered by the law? · How to know if employers are complying with the law or claiming an exemption? · Whether stronger state parity laws will be weakened by the new federal law? · Whether this expanded insurance will raise healthcare costs? This kit also provides information on state legislation that begins to put health insurance coverage for mental illnesses on a more equal footing to that provided for other physical disorders.

"Lawmakers throughout the land are finally catching up to what science is revealing," said NAMI Executive Director Laurie Flynn. "Severe mental illnesses are brain disorders that can be effectively treated as long as people can get access to critical care."

"While not complete, this landmark measure represents an important first step toward achieving equal healthcare protections for individuals with brain disorders," Flynn said. "For the first time in our history, families can breathe a little easier knowing they are entitled to many of the same insurance protections as those with other, equally devastating physical diseases."

NAMI is a partner of Brain Awareness Week, March 16 - 22, 1998, an international campaign coordinated by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives. During the week, thousands of events will be held throughout the country: scientists will open their laboratories to the public, researchers will present symposia, schools will sponsor special programs, museums will conduct science exhibits, and a progress report on brain research will be presented to members of Congress.

The Dana Alliance is also using the week to bring visibility to its new public television series Exploring Your Brain, which will be shown at different times throughout the country beginning in March. Hosted by veteran journalist Garrick Utley and produced in partnership with PBS station WETA, the program looks at breakthroughs in brain research and explains how those discoveries affect our daily lives. For a complete up-to-date, station-by-station schedule, visit http://weta.org/brain.

With more than 172,000 members, NAMI is the nation's leading grassroots organization solely dedicated to improving the lives of persons with severe mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and anxiety disorders. NAMI's efforts focus on support to persons with serious brain disorders and to their families; advocacy for nondiscriminatory and equitable federal, state, and private-sector policies; research into the causes, symptoms and treatments for brain disorders; and education to eliminate the pervasive stigma surrounding severe mental illness. NAMI has more than 1,140 state and local affiliates in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Canada.