Mental illness affects one in four Americans; the incurable severe diseases schizophrenia and bipolar disorder alone strike over five million people. Today an increasing number of the booming population over fifty have struggled for years with psychiatric disorders. Many have no adequate insurance or other means to pay for their long-term treatment until Medicare takes effect at age sixty-five. Historically health insurers have discriminated against those with insurance who have psychiatric disorders through limiting coverage in a variety of ways. Millions effectively have no insurance at all due to lack of money or denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions. They, accordingly, at best depend on the increasingly underfunded Medicaid. This article asserts that society must ensure that adequate mental healthcare is offered to all between ages fifty and sixty-five with longstanding mental illness who cannot pay for their own treatment. It differs from existing perspectives on public benefits by focusing on the aging who have had psychiatric diseases for much of their lives. It offers proposed solutions using existing and potential legislation that will aid the increasing population of the often stigmatized, and overlooked, aging with chronic mental illness.
|Keywords:||Public Policy, Health, Mental Illness|
Professor of Law, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Student, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA