Timothy was an energetic little boy, who by age 7, was becoming easily frustrated and developing a serious temper. His parents provided the experienced, professional help they could afford, but as with many insurance plans, the benefits are unequal and discriminatory when providing benefits for mood disorders, emotional, and behavioral disorders, or other brain disorders. Even though the parents worked two jobs to afford treatment, the costs escalated and their other boys were suffering from a lack of parental time. Timothy still needed treatment the parents couldn’t provide.
Timothy was made a ward of the state in order to receive treatment, but this again was inconsistent and insufficient treatments. Timothy was bullied by other children because of his psychological illness, he suffered additional trauma by being separated from his family, and his depression spiraled downward. At age 12, Timothy took his own life.
The family’s loss was overwhelming; however, with the support and encouragement of other families who had suffered similar losses, and the grassroots support for insurance parity across the state of New York, Timothy’s parents took leadership in resolving the unequal coverage for mental and physical illnesses in employer health plans. On December 22, 2006, Governor George Pataki of New York state, signed legislation enacting Timothy’s Law, requiring equal coverage between mental and physical illnesses. This is a mandatory parity benefit for treatment of adults and children with biologically based mental illnesses, or children with serious emotional disturbances.
In Nebraska on the other hand, insurance providers can give no coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of biologically based mental illness as long as they provide notice of such non-coverage in the plan.
To learn more about Timothy’s Law, listen to the May 1 Not Alone podcast by clicking on the play button below or downloading the file to listen later. To listen to any of the past Not Alone broadcasts, visit The Kim Foundation Not Alone podcast page.
May 1, 2012 – Timothyís Law
Airing every Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. (CST on station KCRO, channel 660 AM based out of Omaha, Neb.), Not Alone is a live talk radio program focused on behavioral health and recovery. Developed by The Kim Foundation through the support of C&A Industries, Inc., Not Alone works to reduce the stigma often associated with mental illness. The show seeks to assure individuals, families, and communities that they are not alone, mental illness affects us all, hosting a variety of guest from across the country.