Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Noted psychiatrist, Dr. Gray Madder, shortly after initiating his session with the webslinger, wonders if Spider-Man has insurance. It's a silly question, as the doctor should be aware of New York's mental health parity legislation, Timothy's Law. The law, which was passed in December 2006, requires that employer-sponsored insurance in New York State include mental health benefits comparable to medical care benefits. This means that generally the law forces employers that provide health insurance to also provide mental health inpatient care of 30 days per year and outpatient care of 20 visits per year. What's more is that small employers (firms with fewer than 50 workers) receive a full subsidy from the state to offset the additional cost of insurance that adding the benefit would add.
Therefore, Dr. Madder should have figured either one of two things. Realizing that Spider-Man uses webslingers (which are not free) and has access to other expensive technology, the doctor should have deduced that he was either independently wealthy or had a steady source of income. If Spidey was independently wealthy such that he could afford to buy such gadgets without working a day job, then he would have likely been able to afford to the cost of the session on his own, which should have pacified any concerns on payment. If he had a steady source of income, he would have most likely been a beneficiary of Timothy's Law, meaning he had mental health insurance.
The only scenario that is uncertain is that Spider-Man is either self-employed or works for a firm that does provide health insurance at all. This could be understandable. After all, it is hard for an outsider to imagine Spider-Man sitting at a desk from 9-5. It is conceivable that he is an artist or something.
More likely, I think Dr. Madder was just unaware of Timothy's Law. In fact, according to a recent report issued by the New York State Insurance Department, a survey of 200 random small employers in NYS found that about 38% had never heard of the law and 18.5% were aware that it expanded mental health benefits, but also believed that it increased costs for the firm (that is, they were unaware of the subsidy).
Perhaps Dr. Madder should keep more in touch with health insurance policy in his state of practice. Or maybe this suggests that the insurance companies should better inform providers of recent changes in policy. Either way, it is safe to assume that Spider-Man has mental health benefits.