Are People With Mental Illness Getting Proper Treatment?

It would appear that they are not according to the newly appointed president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.Professor Simon Wessely of King’s College London in his first interview since taking up the post told the Guardian newspaper that less than a third of people suffering from mental health problems get any treatment at all. This is something the public would not tolerate if the patients concerned had cancer said the professor.The gap is now so bigAlthough the current health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has promised to deliver “parity of esteem” for mental health patients, Professor Wessley says the gap is now so big it may not even be possible to close it.”Parity of Esteem” can be described as valuing mental health equally with physical health. The Royal College of Psychiatrists reckons that this would mean:Equal access to the most effective and safest treatment options available
Equal effort to improve quality of care
Equal status within healthcare education and practice
Equal status in the measurement of health outcomes
Equally high aspirations for service users
Allocation of time, effort and resources on a basis commensurate with needHowever, according to Professor Wesley, people can be routinely waiting for up to 2 years for any sort of treatment in some parts of the country and some children are not getting any treatment at all.”So although we have the aspiration, the gap is now so big and yet there is no more money,” he said.
What if they were cancer patients?Professor Wessley highlighted what would happen if these were cancer patients and not mental health patients that didn’t have access to treatment. Imagine if I gave a talk, he told the Guardian, which started like this.”So, we have a problem in cancer service at the moment. Only 30% of people with cancer are getting treatment, so 70% of them don’t get any treatment for their cancer at all, and it’s not even recognised.”Right enough, there would be public outrage if that were the case.There is no more moneyWhen Professor Wessley asked Simon Stevens, the NHS England Chief Executive how the gap between treatment would be closed, Stevens told him that it would involve a “much longer conversation with the public”.”I think what he means is basically, if people really want true parity in the sense of actual 90% of mental health patients treated within 18 weeks, just like they are for other disorders, that is going to have to mean money will have to move from acute to mental health. Genuine money.”As there is no more money, that would mean significant losses in other sectors. I think he was saying we would need a pretty good political imperative – we would need to know that people were actually on board for that – and I don’t know the answer.”More Mental Health TrainingWessley told the Guardian he believes that doctors, nurses, midwives and social workers should have more mental health training for better integration of diagnosis and treatment. This may help prevent patents being referred for suspected heart complaints which turn out to be panic attacks that haven’t been picked up, said Wessley.So despite the fact that there have been attempts to put mental health care on the same par as physical care but that just isn’t happening, indeed the entire health system is against it according to Wessley.”The whole of our healthcare system is about separating mental and physical. You couldn’t devise a system better suited to separating the mental and the physical if you tried,” he said.At Kings Hospital psychiatrists have been working in general medical wards and this has worked well, according to Wessley, patients don’t have any resistance to it.Is it cost effective?”Certainly when you look at the cost of investigations, when you look at the cost of treatment that isn’t necessary, when you look at the cost of lost working days, when you look at the cost of additional care, actually it does become cost effective. The problem we always have is those savings are not always made to the health service.”But we know people with physical health problems who also have mental health problems cost about 45% more than those who don’t. That’s absolutely and unequivocally clear. The cost of their care goes up. They comply less with treatment, they come back more often, they have lower satisfaction and they have more complications.”

Texas May Be Getting Smart About Health Insurance Cards

Every individual who has health insurance in Dallas , Houston and elsewhere in Texas probably has an insurance card that he/she carries in his/her wallet. Politicians in Texas are considering taking this concept one step further by requiring health insurance companies to electronically embed coverage information into health insurance “smart” cards.By swiping such a health insurance smart card at a doctor’s office or hospital, your healthcare provider, and you, would get real-time information including: what your co-payment is, whether your deductible has been met, which providers are in your network and which procedures are covered.”I’m a physician. I can’t even tell you what my own insurance covers,” Corpus Christi ophthalmologist Jerry Hunsaker told a House committee considering the so-called smart card legislation in April 2007.Recently, the Texas House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a bill by Rep. Beverly Woolley (R-Houston) that would establish a pilot program. Now the measure is in the Senate.Austinite Jeannie Rollo said the proposal sounds like a good idea. She fell and broke her leg in December 2006. Jeannie said that she had no idea whether the doctors treating her at the hospital there were in her network. “At that moment, I was in no condition to pick up my phone and call the insurance company about what kind of coverage I had,” said Rollo, executive director of the Lawyer Referral Service of Central Texas . The insurance company ended up paying the bill, she said.Other individuals in Texas haven’t been so lucky, said Susan Strate, a Wichita Falls pathologist who is also chairman of the Texas Medical Association’s council on socioeconomics. Sometimes, she said, “the procedure is finished, the care has already been given, and the patient is thinking that their out-of-pocket expenses are X. But it turns out to actually be X plus Y.” Strate said that having clear information in advance would help doctors better counsel patients on the most affordable and effective treatments available.Woolley said her bill would cut down on administrative costs and reduce errors. She said she had received the idea from a constituent who pointed out that health insurance cards could have embedded information much like Texas drivers’ licenses do.Some health plans already embed patient information into insurance cards, though health insurance providers are not required to do so in Texas . The Texas Association of Health Plans supports the bill, according to Executive Director Jared Wolfe. He said that having the information up front could help prevent payment disagreements between health plans and health providers after a procedure. Woolley’s bill does not specify the technology that would be used to put the information in the cards.A successful smart card program for health insurance was instituted several years ago in the country of Taiwan . It was created by Taiwan ‘s Bureau of National Health Insurance (BNHI) to increase efficiency and decrease errors and fraud. The BNHI decided to replace its paper-based patient identification system with one built around Sun Microsystems’ Java-based smart cards. Less than a year after the first cards were distributed, the system was up and running nationwide for the country’s 22 million people.The cards aren’t just another high-tech way to make sure that patients are who they say they are. Identity theft is a health care problem in any country, with an increasing number of individuals using stolen identities to seek treatment to which they are not entitled.Furthermore, a paper-based system is hard to monitor and open to abuse, so unnecessary procedures can slip through. The smart cards help clamp down on many abuses and cut down on health-care costs. The cards are also intended to make treatment more efficient and safer.The Taiwanese patient cards have 32 kilobytes of memory, and can store vital patient information including allergy information, organ donor status, emergency contact numbers, medication, prenatal information, and personal insurance data. A quick swipe and doctors have easy access to information they need to make fast, accurate decisions.A health insurance smart card is certainly a cutting-edge idea that could save time and money. Cutting-edge technology and innovation is emerging at unprecedented rate in the fields of medicine and healthcare, and Precedent Insurance is doing its part to lead the way. You should take a look at the revolutionary, comprehensive and highly-affordable individual health insurance solutions created by Precedent specifically for you. For more information, visit us at our website, [http://www.precedent.com]. We offer a unique and innovative suite of individual health insurance solutions, including highly competitive HSA-qualified plans and an unparalleled “real time” application and acceptance experience.