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A patient of mine , that rarely calls me, called me last week in a  frantic state. He just received a letter from The Trustees of the Plumbers’ Welfare Fund regarding “important changes” to his healthcare benefits.

I originally met this 43-year-old gentleman when he presented to my office in January 2006 with depression severe enough that he was contemplating suicide. Over the ensuing 10 months, I diagnosed him with Bipolar Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder (a combination that is fairly common). In spite of initially responding well to his medical regimen, in October of 2006, my patient took an intentional overdose of his medications in an attempt to end his life. Fortunately, he did not succeed and after his release from the hospital he was determined, for the sake of his wife and children to get well. I was equally determined to provide him the medical support he required in order to help  him get well. By early 2007, we did it! Together we found the right combination of medications, 4 of them to be exact, that helped get my patient to remission, which he has remained in ever since. Now, just like the rest of us, my patient has his good days and he has his bad days, but he has not had a relapse of depression or suicidal thinking in nearly 4 years. He has been functioning to the potential that he always knew that he was capable of; and his talents were recognized by his employer and  he has since been promoted to a management position and is an asset to his company. Things worked in my patient exactly as my training and experience as a Psychopharmacologist taught me to expect; when you get your patient’s mental health disorder to a complete remission, their functional capacity (performance) in every aspect of their life improves.

I am providing you with a link to the letter my patient received last week just 10 minutes before he called me to share the insanity. I ask that you read it and try to imagine how my patient felt when he read this letter.

 The dropping of mental health benefits

I will leave you with this thought; the health care crisis in our nation is not, nor has it ever been, primarily about healthcare cost; it’s about productivity lost. I am going  to attempt to convince The Trustees of The Plumber’s Welfare Fund that this is, indeed the case and I hope for their sake that these Trustees can trust me for they, like my patient, stand to lose a great deal by their shortsightedness.

I will let you know how it goes.

Mitchell R. Weisberg, MD, MP

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4 Comments

  1. How sad for all who suffer from behavioral disorders and mental health issues.

    At one time, I had heard that mental health was going to be treated by health insurance companies on a parity with physical health, but alas this has not come to pass so far.

    • The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 that became law in January 2010, while at least a step in the right direction, still completely missed the mark. This law mandates that if a company offers Mental Health Benefits, these benefits must not have any higher out of pocket costs than their other types of health coverage. That is quite a big, “if”! That if had to be thrown in their as a part of the negotiations process for getting an Act to become a Law. The supporters of mental health parity probably thought this would not be an issue, but that is because they are properly informed about mental health disorders and would not anticipate that any employer would possibly opt out of offering mental health benefits. Lawmakers that support mental health parity understand that untreated mental health disorders, and their impact on absenteeism, presenteeism and disability costs are 4 times more expensive than the total cost of employee health benefits. Even with this well established fact, short sighted employer’s do not aknowledge this because it is not on a balance sheet. The other glaring short-coming of the MHPAEA is that it mandates mental health treatment. In light of the fact that less than 25% of the 57 million working age Americans with mental health disorders ever get treated because they are not recognized or diagnosed. I wish there was a way to mandate parity for mental health diagnosis; then we would really be on the right track. Thank you for your comment and please feel free to forward to any friends or co-workers that may take an interest.

  2. Dr. Mitch Weisberg
    has changed my life through his studies and research.

    I will forever be grateful for what he has done for me!!!

  3. If anyone can bring this to the forefront you can. You know how I was paying over 1,300 a month for one scrip, until we found an alternative. You have been my families saving grace.


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