This study addressed various questions: what are issues/problems in legislation implementing parity (equivalence between mental health benefits and general health care benefits in health insurance plans); how have costs and use changed as a result of parity; and what are consumer, employer, insurer, and provider opinions about the effects of the law? Federal and state legislation require benefit parity. The scope and application of these legislative efforts are often limited. California implemented parity legislation in 2000 that provides for equal coverage for severe mental illnesses and covers children with one or more mental disorders. Unlike the parity legislation enacted in many other states, small businesses are not exempt. The size and complexity of California's economy and health care market, make its parity mandate especially important to understand.
Health plans reported that outpatient Mental Health utilization increased following passage of the law requiring parity. Cost increases were reported to be nominal due to the use of managed care. Stakeholders did not feel that parity relieved the financial burden on the public mental health system.
Report Title: Assessment of California’s Mental Health Parity Law: A Step Toward Broader Mental Health System Reform; Report may be obtained from Federal Contact
Agency Sponsor: SAMHSA, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Federal Contact: Jeffrey Buck, 240-276-1959
Performer: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.
PIC ID: 7727