The midterm elections are on the horizon, the war in Ukraine shows little sign of cooling off, we are almost in the billionth straight month of Covid, and Nickel Nichols has died. So it’s little surprise that Americans are in serious need of medical attention: 4 in 10 American adults recently reported symptoms of an anxiety or depressive disorder, up from just 1 in 10 before the pandemic.
Unfortunately, this increase in the number of people with mental health issues is simply another depressing fact of contemporary life: Americans cannot get help with their mental health issues. As John Oliver pointed out during Sunday’s Last Week Tonight, 65 percent of recent psychologists said they have no ability to accept new patients, and more than half who need mental health care, They don’t get it (the numbers are even higher in minority populations).
This lack of availability should, by law, not really be allowed. The 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act required large insurance providers to cover mental health in the same way they cover other health care, and Obamacare later expanded those requirements. But as anyone who has ever gone so far beyond a hospital knows, the American healthcare system doesn’t, in technical terms, “work.” Since there is not enough doctor period, and since many physicians refuse to accept health insurance because of a bureaucratic nightmare, they have to endure paying a fraction of what they need, those seeking help are often put on hold. is left in. mental health providers that their insurance companies provide – lists that include providers who are not accepting new patients, providers that do not accept that insurance, and even deceased providers . They are then left to hope that, despite the odds, they will be called back.
“It’s disturbing for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it forces someone into the horrifying situation of being called back on the phone,” Oliver said. “Which is just horrifying. The best phone call is a text, the second best is an email, and the third best phone call is two traded voicemails. Everything else is an absolute nightmare.”
Those who are able to secure care worry about whether their insurance company will end up paying as an employee in the paperwork review room decides that treatment is no longer necessary. Providers who do manage to get paid by insurance companies often receive a relative low amount for their work, which is not only prompting more and more people to stop taking insurance, but providers are forced to stop taking insurance completely. way out of the industry.
The government effectively does nothing to investigate and punish insurance companies for this atrocious behavior. Why? Because health insurance providers spend millions of dollars annually on political lobbyists.
The mess kicked off by the broken mental health care system has sparked a relatively new bullshit storm in the form of mental health apps. There are currently over 10,000 of them, and the level of care for many of them… is questionable. Oliver gleefully described Woebot, a free app that allows users to chat with a “mental health aide … powered by AI.” Journalists have shown time and again that chatbots’ responses to mental health issues can be absurd at best and retractable at worst.
Other telehealth apps have been shown to oversubscribe meds and connect patients in real distress with providers who have no medical training. As Oliver pointed out, this Silicon Valley mental health service disruption — or whatever tech bros like to call it — winds up curing potentially life-and-death situations like the purchase of a burger and fries.
“There’s basically no scenario where mental health services should act like fast food restaurants,” Oliver said. “Really, the only idea that they should probably steal from them is the concept of giving away toys. Because let’s face it, therapy will feel a lot better if you leave each session with a little minion in a wig.”