National Alliance on Mental Illness
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TRIAD Data Snapshot: The Importance of Parity in Health Insurance

TRIAD's first national survey of NAMI members showed that private health insurance is critically important to many adults living with a serious mental illness. Even though many of the individuals represented in the survey relied on public health insurance programs like Medicaid and Medicare, nearly as many--36 percent--had private health insurance policies, either self-paid or through their employers. 

Health Insurance Coverage of Individuals with Mental Illness Represented in the NAMI Member Survey

Health Insurance Coverage

Percent of Individuals Represented in the Survey





Private Health Insurance Provided through Employer


Self-Purchased Private Health Insurance


No Insurance




Not Sure




Source: Shattered Lives

The importance of private health insurance was made clear in comments received from those surveyed as well.

My son is 17 years old and is covered under my health insurance plan…I am very pleased with them, but have great concerns of how he will be able to afford his medication once he is no longer covered by his parents. He takes three medications, the cost, if not covered by the plan, would be over $1,000 per month.

I feel very fortunate that my current boss knows about my mental illness and accommodates my needs for time away from work when I am not doing well. I have always been well enough to hold a responsible, professional job...I also feel very fortunate that I have health insurance coverage through my employers, as I know that I am considered 'uninsurable' for individual policies. Still, because we are a small organization (less than 100 employees) the mental health parity law in our state does not affect us. My insurance only pays my mental health bill (psychiatrist for medication management and therapist as needed) at 50 percent. There is also a limit on visits. I feel this is extremely unfair as many companies have less than 100 employees and we are subjected to this unfair treatment because of our mental illnesses. The drugs I take are very expensive and...I pay 20 percent of the costs.

Ending discrimination in private health insurance is clearly a requirement for equitable access to needed health care. Tell us about your private health insurance status, how important such coverage is to you, and problems that the coverage or lack thereof poses. We want to hear from you so we can communicate the importance of parity to policy-makers! Thank you for sharing your story with NAMI—and be sure to come back to this site for more information and to take action.

Back to Shattered Lives Report