Policy Analysis : Mental Health Parity And Addiction Equity Act Of 2008

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Policy Analysis: Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 Current health plans are discriminatory in nature, premiums are based on age, sex, medical history, unhealthy habits, current health status, and what diagnoses, treatments, and prescriptions are covered expenses, limiting coverage to services that are medically necessary (Weber, 2013; Smaldone, & Cullen-Drill, 2010). Insurers base coverage decisions of like pools, thus “healthier” people are not required to subsidize the cost of care for those with riskier characteristics (Weber, 2013). Moreover, Judicial interpretations of the American Disabilities Act has permitted insurance plans to deny and place caps on care for certain health conditions if all policyholders…show more content…
This paper will take a look at the most recent attempt to achieve mental health parity and addiction equity. Current Legislation The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (The Wellstone-Domenici Parity Act) (MHPAEA) was passed into law on October 3, 2008 as Subtitle B, Section 511 of federal house bill H.R. 1424, which was the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (H.R.1424, n.d.(b)). The intent of this subsection of the law was to expand the parity of the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 (MHPA) which mandated parity of annual and lifetime benefit limits. MHPAEA necessitated subsequent changes to employer group health plans to include uniformity in financial obligations and treatment restrictions across medical and mental health services (H.R.1424, n.d.(b)). Like MHPA, the new legislation did not mandate group health plans to provide mental health and/or substance abuse benefits, however, the new level of parity is mandated for plans that offer medical/surgical and mental health(MH) and/or substance use disorder (SUD) benefits (Summary MHDAEA, 2009). Additionally, group health plans that offer out-of-network benefits for medical/surgical services are mandated to offer like out-of-network MH/SUD services (Summary MHDAEA, 2009). Furthermore, more stringent State parity laws which supersede MHPAEA may mandate parity for small group health plans and/or individual health plans (Summary MHDAEA, 2009). An
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