For decades, research has suggested that mental illnesses are just as real—and devastating—as more “physical” ailments such as cancer. Now health care coverage will finally reflect this scientific understanding: in October, Congress passed a bill, 12 years in the making, requiring equal insurance coverage for mental and physical illness. Most insurance companies currently impose higher co-pays and greater restrictions on treatments for addictions, mood disorders, autism, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. The parity law, which will go into effect for most health plans on January 1, 2010, will improve coverage for 113 million Americans, according to the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare.
Kate Schrock has been an editor of Scientific American MIND since 2007, where she edits feature articles and runs Head Lines, the magazine's news department. After studying astronomy and physics at the University of Southern California, she worked in the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging at the University of California, Los Angeles, studying the brain structure of people with schizophrenia. She then enrolled in the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting program at New York University, where she earned a master's degree in journalism.