Treatment Options, Coverage Limited for Military Servicemembers
> 6/11/2007 12:16:45 PM

In the midst of a series  of related stories regarding the insufficientattention paid to the mental health needs of those who've recentlyreturned from serving the United States overseas comes another report aboutthe highly restricted resources available to these soldiers and theirfamilies. Largely due to complications regarding coverage under themilitary's limited Tricare insurance plan, many returning militarypersonnel either end up on waiting lists to visit practitioners wholive some distance away or simply cannot receive the treatment theydesperately need.

According to a lengthy published evaluation,Tricare covers most "medically neccessary mental health care services,"while requiring physican referral and  continued supervision for eachcase. This description lends itself to images of very limited optionsfor individuals whose incomes do not allow for independent payment ofthe often considerable bills engendered by continuing treatment. Thelonger the military chooses to retain its restricted health benefitspackage, the fewer servicemen and women will seek treatment forincreasingly prominent mental health issues. Concerned personnel can refer to a Tricare hotline, but the information they receive in turn will most likely not be encouraging. In fact:

Ina limited study by Tricare released earlier this year, about two out ofthree civilian psychiatrists in 20 states were willing to acceptTricare Standard clients among their new patients, the lowestacceptance rate for any specialty.

Complicating the problem is the fact that many servicemen/women and their families do not live in major urban areas where available therapists are far more common. Some exceedingly generous professionals have decided to donate weekly hoursto offering free therapy for members of the American military, buttheir efforts obviously remedy only a miniscule portion of the largerproblem. While the issue is not wholly lost on our representatives ingovernment (more than one piece of recently proposed legislationhas promised expanded mental health coverage), all related bills havestalled in moving through Congress, and serious treatment gapsobviously remain; aside from the usual publicly scripted generalities,one can hardly believe that our government will seriously address thisproblem in the coming months. The Department of Defense's recentlyestablished Mental Health Task Forceis a move in the right direction, but it hardly remedies the generallylackadaisical tone the government has assumed in addressing thisproblem. Members of Congress, disregarding their personal stances aboutour current military ventures or misplaced fiscal concerns, should actquickly to expand much-needed therapeutic and prescriptive services forour returning troops or risk shaming themselves with their ownhypocrisy.

No comments yet.

Post Your Comments

Post a comment
Email Address:
Verification Code:
Input the 8 characters you see above:


Drug Abuse
Sexual Addiction
Eating Disorders
Alzheimer's Disease

About TOL | Contact Us | Defining Behavioral Fitness | For Healthcare Professionals | Links | Privacy Policy