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Parity Law and Mental Health Coverage

Parity Law and Mental Health Coverage

What is Mental Health Parity and How Does it Affect Me?

In 2008, the federal government passed legislation that required insurance companies to give equal coverage for mental health services that it gives for general health coverage. While President George W. Bush passed this legislation, he never published the rules that put the law into effect. In 2010, President Barack Obama’s administration published the rules that put this law into action.

So what does all of this mean?

This means that most of us who are gainfully employed and also have health insurance through our employers should receive the same level of coverage for mental health issues as we do for physical ailments.

Take a closer look at these Mental Health Parity facts:

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) DOES NOT affect:

  • Insurance plans purchased by individuals, such as freelance workers or self-employed workers.
  • Employers and companies who do not offer any substance abuse or mental health benefits. It is still an option not to offer coverage for these items at all.
  • Small businesses with less than 50 employees.

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) DOES affect:

There are some notable changes in the law, including:

  • Group health plans that previously offered both physical health and mental health coverage must treat both services equally.
    • This means:
      • Out-of-pocket costs must be the same for both mental and physical health
      • Benefit limits must be the same for both mental and physical health
      • Prior authorization must be the same for both mental and physical health
      • Hospitalization costs must be the same for both mental and physical health
      • Deductibles must be the same for mental and physical health

      These new rules have built upon the original Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA) of September 26, 1996, that required that coverage limits for mental health wellness must be the same as those for other medical and surgical coverage when in a group plan.

      Who Does Mental Health Parity Help the Most?

      Mental health parity helps all of us. Because life can throw a curveball at any of us, we never know when we might need mental health services. The new legislation covers anyone who is struggling with alcohol or drug abuse and helps these individuals get coverage as well. Persons with chronic mental illness that require extensive mental health care are now covered equally in both mental and physical health.

      How Do I Know if I am Covered Under Mental Health Parity?

      If you are faced with an emotional or substance abuse crisis, dealing with health insurance can be overwhelming.

      If you need help treating a mental illness or substance abuse problem and have questions about your mental health coverage, we can help. We offer a toll free, 24-hour helpline that is staffed by trained, dedicated counselors waiting to guide you through everything from insurance coverage, mental health and substance abuse treatment, interventions, counseling, family and individual care and more.

      Speak to a live person and find out your options. All of our calls are confidential. Let us help you today.