Timothy's Law - for Parity-based Mental Health & Chemical Dependency insurance coverage
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Facts About Timothy’s Law

Timothy's Law Is Business-Friendly

Mental illness costs US businesses $79 billion annually in lost productivity. The total social and health costs to US society of dealing with alcohol and illegal drug abuse has been estimated as $167 billion. Providing parity-based behavioral health insurance benefits to employees, like those offered in Timothy’s Law, helps to reduce absenteeism and increase productivity among employees. For examples of lost productivity at work, we don't need to look further than Timothy's father, Tom O'Clair. Over a period of 4 years, Tom lost over 800 hours of work, at one of the two jobs he held at the time, trying to get Timothy the services he needed. That says nothing of the countless hours when he was at work, preoccupied with thoughts about his son.

Sign reading "I can spare $1.26 / month for mental health.  How about you?"
Sign held at Nov. 18, 2004 Timothy's
Law Rally at the NYS Capitol
In 2002, PricewaterhouseCoopers conducted an actuarial study (153KB PDF file - free Adobe Acrobat Reader required to view this) regarding the estimated cost to mandate such coverage in insurance policies. Based upon the prior experiences of dozens of other states that have already passed some form of parity, the actuarial studies conducted on the implementation of parity in those other states, and the particular circumstances of New York, the final report estimated the cost of implementing mental health and substance abuse parity legislation at $1.26 per insured person per month.

Is it worth it? Dr. Miles Snowden, the former-Director of Benefits Strategies at Delta Airlines recently told a reporter with National Public Radio that, “For every $1.00 that we have spent in providing behavioral health benefits, we are getting $1.50 back in terms of reduced absence from work and improved productivity.” From Calculating the Costs of Mental Health Care - Audio clip of news story on National Public Radio's (NPR) website (8 minutes 25 seconds)

Susan Wheeler, owner of the Binghamton-based employment services firm, The Star Group, and Chair of the newly formed Small Businesses for Timothy’s Law, agrees. “Providing my employees with parity-based behavioral health benefits like those in Timothy’s Law would cost me less than losing one employee for one hour due to untreated or under-treated mental health or addiction issues.”

For additional information regarding the impact of Timothy's Law on businesses, we encourage you to visit NAMI-NYC Metro 's website, Equal Mental Health Benefits: Good for Families—AND—Good for Business.

Timothy's Law Is Family-Friendly

The lack of mental health and addiction services parity in health insurance is terribly detrimental to thousands of families throughout New York. When one family member suffers from these disabilities, the entire family is affected.

These circumstances are most commonly seen with regard to children. In the most extreme cases, parents, such as the O'Clairs, are forced to relinquish custody of their children with mental illness, solely for the purpose of getting such children the mental health services they need. Such placement provides the child unrestricted access to mental health services through Medicaid. However, the affect of breaking up the family unit is devastating to the child and parents, particularly when considering that the family unit is the base of stability for children.

Timothy's Law is Good for New York State

In situations where parents are forced to relinquish custody of their child, not only are taxpayers paying for the expense of providing mental health services to a child through Medicaid, but taxpayers also end up footing the bill for the social service programs that must also pay for the child's housing, education and other health care expenses, costing as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for each child. With passage of Timothy’s Law, New York State could return the cost of providing mental health care to the proper sources – health insurers and the intact family unit.

33 other states have passed some form of mental health and/or substance abuse parity legislation into law. When Vermont passed their mental health and substance abuse parity law in 1998, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) undertook an extensive study of its results. As part of their final report, they included a table outlining what aspects of parity each state has and does not have (1307KB PDF file - free Adobe Acrobat Reader required to view this).