The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 required health plans that offer mental health and substance use disorder benefits to cover them to the same extent that they cover medical/surgical benefits. Among other things, it prohibits having treatment limits or financial coverage requirements such as copayments or deductibles that are more restrictive than a plan’s medical coverage. Interim regulations issued in 2010 clarified some issues about implementing the law.
The final rules, issued last month by federal officials, spell out more specifics. Jennifer Mathis, Director of Programs at the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law in Washington, discussed the parity law and the new regulations with Michelle Andrews of Kaiser Health News.