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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Mental Health Parity Minimal Economic Impact

In 2008 the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act was passed, a law that would provide the same level of insurance coverage for mental health as it would cancer. In 2010 the law went into effect for most insurance plans and we are now seeing data on the economic impact created by the changes. A new study has shown that the impact has been minimal, despite the required increase in coverage for employer-based insurance plans.

Before, both Patrick and the late Ted Kennedy championed the health parity act, insurers imposed limits on substance use disorder treatment. Providers would restrict the number of visits and required high cost-sharing, according to Medical Xpress.

In an attempt to stop the bill in its tracks, insurance companies and employers argued in Congress that such a bill would significantly increase their costs. However, researchers at Yale University found that the act has not resulted in a rise in the proportion of enrollees seeking behavioral health related treatment, according to the article. The findings showed that there was an increase of only $10 annually per health plan enrollee in spending for substance use disorder treatment.

“To my knowledge this is the first peer-reviewed study to examine the effects of the 2008 federal parity law on substance use treatment,” lead researcher Susan Busch of the Yale School of Public Health, said in a news release. “The small increase in per-enrollee spending suggests plans are unlikely to drop coverage for [substance use disorder] treatment in response to the law.”

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act in conjunction with the Affordable Care Act, has given millions of people the opportunity for health care coverage and has allowed people to get the required treatment needed in the battle against addiction.

The study was published in the American Journal of Managed Care.
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