Progress and Bumps in the Road to Mental Health Parity 

By Max Friedman

despair-513528_640Seven years after Congress passed a law mandating that mental health care be treated the same as medical and surgical care by insurers, we are still a long way from true mental health parity.

Kaiser Health News reports this week that the Federal Government has released proposed rules for state Medicaid agencies on how states should protect low-income patients using Medicaid or CHIP for mental health care and addiction services.

The rules mean that Medicaid plans could no longer have hard caps on the number of mental health care visits a patient could have in a year, and if a patient is denied coverage, the insurer would have to explain why.

Additionally, Kasier Health News and NPR discussed the mixed results regarding private insurance and mental health care.  While separate copays and higher deductibles for mental health care have largely been eliminated, many insurers have “medical necessity” reviews, applying cost-control procedures much more stringently to mental health care than they do for medical care.

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