Mental Health Parity Act

Up until recently, and even now in many cases, people being treated for  mental health disorders have had more restrictions placed on them when it came to insurance coverage. New steps are being taken to provide equal benefits for those seeking help for their mental health.

The Importance of Mental Health

Mental health is a topic that has moved to the forefront in recent years. We now realize how important good mental health is, and how negatively poor mental health can affect different aspects of a person’s life. Depression, anxiety, and other disorders can lead to poor physical health, behavioral problems, and substance abuse or addiction. Problems with work, family, and relationships often follow a mental health disorder.

More and more people are being diagnosed and treated for mental health disorders. These may be caused by genetics, upbringing, past experiences, or trauma. Some mental health problems are caused by substance abuse, making it important to identify and deal with all underlying causes and dual diagnosis when treating mental health. But for many people needing this type of help, the cost for treatment is beyond their means.

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An act that was passed in 2008, called the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, is designed to help those seeking treatment for mental health and addiction. This Act, which went into effect this year, ensures that employees with mental health coverage receive the same benefits for mental health treatment as they do for medical and surgical treatments. The Act does not allow additional limits to be placed on mental health benefits that are not placed on other types of care as well. Under this act, the coverage that is offered must be equal for all the different aspects of health care, including mental health.

Against the Act

There are people who oppose this Act and others like it. Cost of insurance will likely increase, and with health care being widely debated in our country, many people are not in favor of increasing the cost and coverage of any type of health care.

Supporting the Act

But for those that understand the implications of poor mental health, the results of caring for mental health are far-reaching. A person that is being cared for mentally will be more stable and able to hold down a job. Employees that struggle with depression, post traumatic stress disorder, ADHD, or other disorders that aren’t being treated will be less productive, and may show shortcomings in other areas as well. Add to this the risk of substance abuse and addiction from patients that are self-medicating rather than seeking professional help, and the results are even more devastating. But mental health disorders can be treated. With the help of professional treatment, many people are able to carry on happy, normal lives.

Sources

Regulations issued on mental health and substance abuse parity in group health plans

Mental-Health Benefits

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Parity in Michigan

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