Insurance Woes

Total Running Time: 9:57 min.

Among the most troubling issues facing addicts and their families today is that of insurance: many insurance policies for individuals and companies simply don't cover long-term treatment of drug addiction. Forty-three percent of Americans who are unable to get addiction treatment cite cost or insurance barriers as their obstacle, and since the advent of managed care, the average duration of inpatient addiction treatment has declined significantly. Not surprisingly, there has been a growing battle against the managed-care industry across the nation. In Pennsylvania, a group of citizens have joined with state legislatures and lawyers to demand that policies are amended. At the State Capitol Building in Harrisburg, PA, a group of parents and friends of young people who fell victim to addiction have gathered to state their cases. In heart-wrenching speeches to the legislature, several mothers hold pictures of their children while explaining how insurance failed to pay for inpatient treatment that might have saved their lives. Roberta explains how her daughter Ashley was only given outpatient treatment for her heroin addiction; after six weeks in the program, she was discharged and relapsed. She went to another rehab facility that required a 28-day stay, but was released after seven days when the insurance company refused to approve further treatment. The next morning, Roberta found Ashley dead in her room. According to Gary Tennis of the Pennsylvania DAs Association, Ashley's case may well be one of involuntary manslaughter, adding, "Those of you in the managed care industry that are looking at this issue, ask yourself, "Do you want to take this chance?" Adds Joanne, the mother of Rob, a high-school senior felled by drugs, "We are not the exception, we are the rule .... We can build a better system - or we can continue to bury our children."