Congress Mandates Mental Health Parity in Insurance Coverage

Amidst the throes of the financial bailout, Congress has approved legislation requiring insurers and employers to cover mental illness, including alcohol and drug addiction, at levels on par with physical illness. 

For example, the bill requires parity in deductibles, co-pays, and out-of-pocket expenses, and it will eliminate limits insurers commonly impose for mental illness, such as 30 visits or 30 days in hospital, in the absence of similar limits for medical and surgical coverage.

The new law does not force employers or health plans to cover mental illness or alcohol or drug abuse.  And it does not apply to employers with fewer than 50 employees.  Many states already have some form of parity law, but self-insured employers have not been reached by state parity laws. 

The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 was saved from death upon Congressional adjournment when it ended up getting tacked onto the bailout bill in the Senate, which then passed in the House.



© 2008 Parsonage Vandenack Williams LLC


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