Thursday, July 10, 2008

“Shuffling Toward Mental Health Parity”

There are two positions in the Congress on equal coverage for mental health problems. This free editorial explains the issue, where the legislation is now and, below, the editors’ conclusions.
New England Journal of Medicine
“For half a century, advocates and reformers have sought to ensure that mental illnesses are addressed in the same way as all other illnesses. Considerable progress has been made, and today treatment of mental disorders is increasingly part of the medical mainstream. But some glaring exceptions remain. One of the most visible and troubling manifestations of continuing unequal treatment of mental health conditions can be found in the structure of health insurance contracts. For a mental illness, most private health insurance contracts impose special limits on the amount of treatment they will pay for. The federal Medicare program and many private insurers impose much higher cost sharing for mental health treatment than for physical health treatment. Continued calls for parity — equal insurance coverage of mental and other medical conditions — seek to redress this inequity.”
…. “The evidence from the existing parity plans suggests a possible compromise between the House and Senate positions.

Norman DeLisle, MDRC
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