Mental Health Parity: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Parity Definition Implications

by Suann Kessler   –  

At least twenty-eight percent of American adults suffer from a mental or addictive disorder.  However, even today, health insurance coverage for mental health services differs drastically from that of other medical services.  Nonetheless, although it has yet to achieve parity with other medical services, health insurance coverage for mental health services has improved over time.  Because the recent enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA”) appears to have filled the parity gaps left by the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, many claim that mental health parity has finally been achieved.  While the PPACA may superficially appear to have plugged all the gaps, the ultimate questions are whether it provides actual mental health parity, and whether it facilitates access to mental health services for those who truly need them.  This note takes deeper look into these questions, and reveals that the PPACA may fall short of providing actual parity between mental health and other medical services.

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