Some People Who Have Taken Antidepressants Find It Harder To Obtain Individual Health Insurance Policies
People seeking individual health insurance policies are "vulnerable to rejection or higher rates" if they are taking antidepressants, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Blue Cross of California spokesperson Michael Chee said, "Pharmaceutical costs are one of the most expensive costs in the system right now, especially long-term maintenance drugs" like antidepressants. The use of antidepressants has doubled since 1998, with more than $13 billion in sales in 2003. Insurers say that they are not discriminating against applicants for individual plans with mental illnesses, asserting that they are trying to provide the largest number of people with the most affordable insurance. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found wide variation in insurance company practices when evaluating applicants for individual health coverage. Brokers say that people are more likely to be offered higher premiums than to receive rejections if their medical histories indicate antidepressant use. Janet Trautwein, a National Association of Health Underwriters director, said that insurers "still consider mental health care to be a risk and a little bit of an unknown"
(Sander/Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/22).