Evaluation of Parity in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program: Final Report

12/31/2004

The evaluation of the 2001 OPM policy of parity for mental health and substance abuse (MH/SA) health care insurance benefits in the FEHB Program was conducted primarily to assess the impact of this policy on utilization and cost. Would increases be within reasonable limits or would the increase to utilization and cost render MH/SA parity unaffordable? Would implementation of MH/SA parity have an effect on the quality of MH/SA care? Analysis of claims data from 1999-2002 for nine FEHB plans, which cover over 3.2 million lives, showed that both utilization and cost increased after parity. However, when compared to a matched set of claims drawn from the Medstat Group MarketScan® Benefit Plan Design database, the increase in FEHB plans was not statistically significantly different from the Medstat plans that were not included in the parity policy. The increase could not be attributed to the parity policy. Further analysis of the FEHB claims on the impact of the parity policy on quality of care, found that there was no negative impact on quality when looking at care in comparison to published professional standards. [258 PDF pages]

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