Monday, June 11, 2007
According to Kimberly Hefling of the AP, our war veterans along with their families are finding it nearly impossible to acquire mental health services.
Tricare, the military health insurance program, has been criticized by the Defense Department's mental health care task force for having "fragmented rules and policies, inadequate oversight, and insufficient reimbursement." With hundreds of thousands of veterans and their family members suffering from mental health struggles throughout the Iraq War, there has been an overwhelming demand for psychological services, but many therapists and psychologists are not approved or reimbursed appropriately by the military's insurance program.
Tricare reimburses therapists at 66% of a standard rate - even if those rates are higher in more expensive cities. This has caused many therapists to refuse to accept Tricare insurance. Those therapists that still accept Tricare are maxed out on clients and veterans are having to drive hours to find nearby therapists.
While active duty soldiers tend to get better coverage, guard and reserve soldiers and their families have to pay 20% out of pocket causing a signficant financial burden. Especially when it takes months process the trauma of war.
Tricare even released a 20 state study showing they have the lowest acceptance rate from practicing psychologists and psychiatrists! This means that mental health practictioners are fleeing from the low rates and red tape of Tricare - who is charged with providing our veterans with health care!
All of this added up means that our soldiers and their families are not receiving the coveted support that we all claim they deserve. We are leaving hundreds of thousands of military men and women high and dry when it comes to taking care of their mental health. When veterans come back home they face a myriad of struggles and those struggles are not limited to the visible battle wounds we see on television. Our veterans suffer from the invisible scars of trauma, depression, panic attacks, substance abuse, and family strife.
Let's support our troops not just with ribbons and rhetoric, but also with dollars and common sense.
Ask our Representatives to hold insurance companies accountable for taking care of not just the physical, but also MENTAL health of our troops and their families.
Please comment if you have any stories, comments, or helpful information.
Also, if you are a military person living nearly USM there is the University Clinic for Family Therapy that provides very low rates to military personnel for individual, couple, and family therapy. Call them at 601.266.5475.
Go read the story of Jonathan Schulze.