Mental health professionals are increasingly pointing to early intervention and increased services for children as one of the keys to successful treatment for mental illnesses.
Colonial Behavioral Health, the community services board responsible for mental health services in Williamsburg, James City County, York and Poquoson, is having a symposium, "Together We Can ... Creating a Caring Community for Our Children" from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 18; participants should sign up by April 10 at http://www.colonialbh.org/events. Both parents and service providers are encouraged to attend. The event is free and will be held at the Williamsburg Hotel and Conference Center, 50 Kingsmill Road, Williamsburg.
Workshops include sessions on substance use, psychotropic medications, advocacy, financial planning, self-harm, trauma and more. Speakers include Gina Gallagher and Patricia Konjoian, authors of "Shut up about your Perfect Kid" and Margaret Nimmo Crowe, policy director at Voices for Children.
A Hampton reader called to express her concern about having to pay for an ongoing mail-order prescription for a diabetes drug she no longer uses. She claimed that Express Scripts, the company her insurance company contracts with, required a doctor to discontinue it and that she could not cancel it herself.
David Whitrap, a spokesman for the pharmacy benefit management company, responded to my call with this information. "That's generally not our policy. Once we ship and medication is delivered, they would have to pay. It can't be returned for obvious reasons," he said. Typically, in order to save money, patients order a three-month supply. However, Whitram assured that "in general, patients can cancel prescriptions whenever they want by calling the number on the back of their member card or by going online." He added that patients who are signed up for auto-renewal receive a phone call or email in advance of the renewal and they can cancel or postpone the order at that time.
Anyone with such concerns can call their member number, go online to http://www.express-scripts.com, or call Whitrap at 314-684-6514.
Another reader, an accountant, called to advise others that if they received health insurance through their employer and they leave (either voluntarily or not), if the company has fewer than 20 employees, it is under no obligation to provide ongoing COBRA coverage. The 1985 federal law, Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, requires employers who offer group health plans to offer continued coverage for former employees and their dependents for 18 months. Under the same law, following an employee's death or divorce, the worker's family has the right to continue coverage for up to 36 months. COBRA recipients are responsible for the entire premium, up to 102 percent of the cost of coverage.
Along with employers with fewer than 20 employees, some church plans are also exempt from the COBRA mandate. However, under Virginia law, individuals have "continuation rights," according to Katha Treanor, senior information resources specialist for the State Corporation Commission. "Employees may have 12 months of continuation coverage under their employer's group policy and/or 31 days to convert to an individual policy," she wrote in an email.
Treanor also pointed to these other options:
• Visit the federal government's web site, http://www.healthcare.gov and click on the "Find Insurance Options" tab.
• Shop around for an individual health insurance policy; consider a high-deductible plan, but make sure you understand the plan costs and coverage.
• Determine if you are eligible for Medicaid.
• If you have children who need coverage, see if your family qualifies for the Children's Health Insurance Program, CHIP.
• If you're under 26, find out if you can get on your parents' plan.
For questions about insurance, call the state Bureau of Insurance at 804-371-9741 or toll-free at 1-877-310-6560, or by email at email@example.com.
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