Paying for Mental Health Services: Have You Heard of the Mental Health Parity Law?

LAW PIC-001Do you find yourself wondering how you will pay for mental health services for a loved one or for yourself should the need arise?  I don’t know about you, but it used to seem to me that such services were available only to those that readily had the money to pay out of pocket.  Regardless, a variety of barriers have existed, and mental health care has been inaccessible to many.  I have good news!  Times have changed.  There is now a law known as the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008.  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) discusses the law and its meaning on their website.  According to the SAMHSA article titled “Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity” the “act requires insurance groups that offer coverage for mental health or substance use disorders to provide the same level of benefits that they do for general medical treatment” (2014).  Therefore, access to mental health care has increased due to the act.

Unfortunately, a number of Americans may not be aware of this important act.  The American Psychological Association (APA) notes in their article titled “Resources on the Mental Health Parity Law” that based on a recent APA survey “only four percent of Americans say they are aware of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, which requires mental and behavioral health coverage to be equal to or better than coverage for physical health, with no annual limits or higher co-pays or deductibles for treatment of mental health disorders or substance-use” (2014).  This is good news for sure!

To be honest, I’ve heard of the act, but I was not fully aware of the meaning and impact of the act until today.  The APA provides a helpful, animated video about the act here: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/parity-law-resources.aspx.  I encourage you to check it out.  It’s only one minute and 20 seconds long so it won’t take long for you to watch.  Believe me, it’s worth your time.  Also, APA shares additional helpful resources pertaining to the parity law that you can find listed below the video. Furthermore, there is an APA consumer guide titled “What You Need to Know About Mental Health Coverage.”  You can access the guide here: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/parity-guide.aspx.  The guide includes a wealth of information such as but not limited to an explanation of what the law does, health plans that the law affects,  how to know if your health plan provides mental health coverage and much more.  I highly encourage you to check it out.  I’ve already book marked the website and plan on re-reading it again for future reference.

I’m thankful to have learned more today about this extremely important act.  I hope you will find it beneficial too.  Perhaps you can share it with those you know and those that you are aware may need help.  If you wouldn’t mind, I’d be honored if you shared this blog post with others in an effort to continue to raise awareness about this vital law.

Best,

Stacy

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Resources on the Mental Health Parity Law. (2014). Retrieved May 20, 2014, from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/parity-law-resources.aspx

Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity. (2014). Retrieved May 20, 2014, from http://beta.samhsa.gov/health-reform/parity

 

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