To say again, I had the good fortune to attend the annual meeting of the American Council on Consumer Interests (“ACCI”) in Clearwater Beach, Florida last week. The ACCI assembled what I think is the nicest group of people to be around; if they are not in first place for “nicest” in my experience, I cannot recall who would be.
The ACCI members as a group shied away from labels. They did not seem to want to be pinned down even as “academics” or as “regulators.” Their membership is united in its devotion to scholarship regardless of labels. They support one another’s research projects as they focus on the results of their collective research. In short, they focus on evidence.
A good illustration of their approach came when the ACCI gave an award to Sandy Praeger. Praeger has been a Kansas State Representative, a Kansas State Senator, an elected Kansas Insurance Commissioner, and the Chair of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Her acceptance speech exemplified her long and distinguished service.
She spoke to the audience’s focus on evidence as a basis for conclusions. The special focus of an anecdote she told was on evidence as a basis for policy. Specifically, evidence as a basis for coverage under an insurance policy.
Not long ago, the members of the Kansas Legislature shared the belief of many people that mental conditions are essentially too expensive to be covered by insurance and that there is no good result available even when insurance coverage is extended to mental health treatments.
In reality, mental health conditions are generally every bit as treatable as physical health conditions. There may not be a “cure” for schizophrenia or other mental illness, just as there may not be a “cure” for cardiac health issues. However, persons with mental illness can be maintained just like cardiac patients can be maintained. A person who had a heart attack has a cardiac condition for the rest of their lives, whether or not they ever again present the symptoms of cardiac disease, in much the same way that a person with a mental health condition will always have a mental health condition. Yet both persons can be maintained throughout their lives and there is no more reason to deny insurance coverage to one as to the other including annual or maximum caps on coverage for treatments.
Ms. Praeger and others presented the evidence in this regard to the members of the Kansas Legislature. It took awhile, but several years later, the Legislature passed legislation to prohibit arbitrary caps on coverage for mental health treatments that are not similarly imposed by health insurers on persons receiving treatment for physical conditions.
Evidence trumped opinions which were not based on actual evidence. That is worth remembering.
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