Dr. B's Blog

Mental Health Parity

Wellstone-Domenici Parity Act. Back in 2008 the mental health parity act was passed. It didn't come into effect until this year and is still not in place for all policies. It makes insurance companies offer the same level of care for mental health treatment that they offer for medical conditions on their policies. It requires that they not limit access to therapy because you're out of sessions or you've reached a yearly or lifetime maximum.

It's not perfect because it only applies to poliicies at large (greater than 50 employees) organizations whose current policies already offer mental health and substance use disorder treatment. It's not perfect because an insurance company can get out of the requirement if they can show that their costs will increase 2% due to the change (1% in later years). It's not perfect because it only applies to a handful of diagnoses. And it's mostly not perfect because we have to rely on insurance companies to "believe" our diagnoses when filing.

That said, it's a huge step forward in care for patients who need mental health coverage. It'd be nice if all conditions could be treated within the 20 or so sessions offered by some policies but that's not how it works. At least for these conditions we should be able to get the time we need to start living a life work living.