The long awaited mental health parity rules are to be released soon. Although the mental health parity act has been around for a while, the rules were not promulgated when the act was passed which allowed insurance companies significant latitude in their interpretation and implementation of the act. Under the mental health rules, mental illness and substance abuse problems will be treated like a physical illness which was conveyed in the original act, but has long been undefined. The forthcoming rules that will address the issues around pre-authorization requirements and location of services which have been used to restrict access. Currently, people seeking mental health services, including outpatient may be subjected to extensive pre-authorization requirements, restrictions on the treatment and geographical limits which have prevented people from receiving treatment in another state. If a person needed cardiac treatment unavailable in their home state they could go out-of-state; a person seeking mental health treatment may not be allowed to seek treatment outside of their state. Under the forthcoming rules, a restriction like that would not exist.
We hope that the parity rules put some teeth into the Mental Health Parity legislation. Legislators see positive outcomes in addressing mental health treatment needs which previously were unmet and perhaps accounted for some of the extremely violent acts which have made the news lately. In reality, let’s hope that the Mental Health Parity Rules force insurance companies to treat mental health and substance abuse problems like physical ailments and not subject policy holders to restrictive and cumbersome rules which deny access to treatment. Interesting, is that the Medicaid and Medicare programs are not included in the forthcoming rules.
Click here to read the New York Times story: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/08/us/politics/rules-to-require-equal-coverage-for-mental-ills.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20131108
Tag lines: mental health parity act, mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, payment for mental health treatment, payment for substance abuse treatment