U.S. Legislation on Mental Health

Perhaps the most well-known piece of mental health legislation has been the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA). This law made insurers offer no fewer benefits to an individual for mental health treatment than for physical health treatment. It did not require insurers to offer mental health coverage but it did level the playing field, so to speak.

Fewer than four years after it was enacted in 2010, the Obama Administration is widening the scope of coverage by making mental health coverage a requirement for insurers. Using a tiered system, much like insurance plans already do, the amount of coverage will depend on your plan. It also encompasses behavioral health issues and substance abuse or addiction.

State Mental Health Legislation

One sticking point to this legislation is that coverage can vary based on the state you are living in. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, there are certain types of mental health laws, and each state is different.

  • Comprehensive parity provides equal coverage to individuals for mental health issues and substance abuse or addiction. Two states with this law are Connecticut and Vermont.
  • A limited parity means that a plan limits equal coverage based on diagnosed mental health conditions or restricts coverage to a set limit, either financially or in terms of care duration.
  • A broad-based parity law, on the other hand, is a mix between the two. While some limitations to coverage may apply, the coverage itself is encompassing of all mental health conditions.
  • There are a few types of mandates in regards to coverage offerings. These may help you better understand MHPAEA and other parity-related laws. A mandated offering requires an insurance plan to include an option on mental health, in which coverage benefits will be equal to other care. If the plan already offers mental health care treatment, a mandate if offered law states that coverage will be equal to other medical care. And, on the other end of the spectrum, a minimum mandated benefit law does not stress the equality between types of health care coverage.
  • Like mandated care, benefits also fall into the same category. Minimum benefit if offered works similarly to the above mandated benefit only there is not specifically a mandate. If a plan offers health coverage, the minimum benefit need only apply. And such, a minimum benefit is just that – a minimum benefit.

Getting Treatment for Mental Health Conditions

If you are thinking about treatment for a mental health problem, take time to talk to your insurance company about your coverage. Once you know what your plan benefits are, you can take the next step in finding a treatment facility that is right for you.

At FRN, we have premiere clinicians, nurses and physicians. Our staff includes counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and specialized treatment professionals who are educated, experienced and genuinely interested in your well-being. Call us today to learn more about the types of treatments we offer, how state legislation affects you and your care, and how we can help. Getting the right treatment for your condition is important, so let us help.

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