Affordable Care Act Expands Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Benefits and Federal Parity Protections for 62 Million Americans . Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Benefits Prior to the Affordable Care Act

02/20/2013

About one-third of those who are currently covered in the individual market have no coverage for substance use disorder services and nearly 20 percent have no coverage for mental health services, including outpatient therapy visits and inpatient crisis intervention and stabilization.3  In addition, even when individual market plans provide these benefits, the federal parity law does not apply to these plans to ensure that coverage for mental health and substance use disorder services is generally comparable to coverage for medical and surgical care. 

In the small group market, coverage of mental health and substance use disorder treatment is more common than in the individual market.   We estimate that about 95 percent of those with small group market coverage have substance abuse and mental health benefits.4  Again, the federal parity law does not apply to small group plans.  In many states, state parity laws offer those covered in this market some parity protection, but most state parity laws are narrower than the federal parity requirement. 

In addition, 47.5 million Americans lack health insurance coverage altogether,5 and 25 percent of uninsured adults have a mental health condition or substance use disorder or both.6

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