Jeffrey A. Schaler, Ph.D.

The Washington Times
Tuesday, December 11, 2001


The Washington Times
Letters to the Editor
December 11, 2001

No to mental-health parity bill

Psychiatrist Thomas Szasz hits the nail on the head ("Thumbs on the parity scale for psychiatrists," Commentary, Dec. 9). The House of Representatives should not pass the parity bill for several reasons.

First, mental illness is a disease metaphorically, but not literally. If it was a real brain disease, standard textbooks on pathology would recognize it as such.

Second, if the parity bill is passed, people with real diseases will be deprived of needed insurance coverage. Insurance companies will be forced to pay to treat people with ethical problems, not medical problems. People with "mental illness" can control their behavior, and in many cases they don't even want "treatment."

Third, the parity bill smacks of socialism. Government has no business dictating what insurance companies sell. If it was cost effective to cover the treatment of mental illness, insurance companies would already do so. Parity for mental illness, however, is not cost effective. Therefore, insurance customers will bear the burden via higher premiums if the parity bill is passed.

Finally, it is worth noting that criticism of this bill is rarely heard. For the House to make an informed decision, they should first study the arguments contesting the idea that mental illness even exists. Why are other newspapers too frightened to publish opinions critical of the bill?


Jeffrey A. Schaler is adjunct professor at the School of Public Affairs of American University.