NAMI Advocate
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State Healthcare Reforms for Uninsured Fail to Address High Percentage of Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders

New data indicates that more than one in four adult Americans without medical insurance have a mental illness or substance use disorder, or both.

But many state healthcare initiatives intended to cover the uninsured are neglecting these conditions, according to a report by NAMI and the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (National Council).

The report was supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Mental illness is the leading cause, and substance use is the second leading cause, of disability among adults. Approximately one-third of these groups, living below the federal poverty line, do not have insurance,” said NAMI Executive Director Michael J. Fitzpatrick.

The report reveals that benefits for mental illness and substance use treatment vary greatly across states.  Among the report’s findings:

  • Based on a study of 18 states, approximately 60 percent have equal coverage for mental illnesses in initiatives for the uninsured, but only 28 percent include substance abuse.
  • Basic parity is not enough. More states need to address problems with scope of benefits, co-payments, prior approvals, and shortages of mental health professionals.
  • Few states are including mental illness and substance use disorders in wellness and chronic disease management programs.

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