Jon Gabel, a co-author of the study and a senior fellow at the National Opinion Research Center, Washington, says the research shows that substance-abuse benefits are treated as a stepchild.
There is a widespread perception, if you have diabetes, somehow its not your fault, Gabel says. But if you have an alcohol-abuse problem or drug problem, its a moral failing, he says. Others noted that the terminology has now changed to substance-use conditions, rather than abuse, which is considered a pejorative term that does not identify substance use as a chronic condition similar to diabetes, asthma or cardiovascular disease.
Gabel also cites potential concerns among employersthat providing substance-abuse coverage could attract people with addiction problemsas well as insurers that fear such coverage would increase premiums, thereby making it hard to compete in the marketplace.
The evidence is pretty strong that the impact of equal coverage for substance-use treatment has no effect, or a slight effect, on premium, says Eric Goplerud, a research professor in the department of health policy at George Washington University. Goplerud, who also serves as president of the American College of Mental Health Administration, says there is no other healthcare condition for which there is greater discrimination in the healthcare marketplace than addictions.
Regarding insurance premiums, a March report from the Congressional Budget Office estimates that if the Senate bill is enacted, premiums for group health insurance would increase by an average of 0.4% before accounting for the responses of health plans, employers and workers to the higher premiums.
But Mohit Ghose, a spokesman for Americas Health Insurance Plans, cited yet another study that showed 300,000 people lose their health insurance coverage for every 1% increase in premiums.