Americans often have more difficulty getting behavioral health treatment than they do accessing other medical care. Even those with health insurance face barriers. Insurance plans charge them more or put more restrictions on behavioral health benefits that are not in place for other medical care. Parity laws at the federal and state level are designed to change this and make health insurance plans treat individuals with behavioral health conditions fairly.
The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (the Federal Parity Law ) was passed in 2008 and requires health insurance plans to cover behavioral health benefits and physical health benefits equally. The Federal Parity Law says three things:
The Federal Parity Law does not require that all health insurance plans cover behavioral health care, but if they do, the coverage must be comparable to what’s in place for other medical care.
State Parity Laws can also provide additional rights beyond the Federal Parity Law. Learn more about state parity laws and legislative efforts to improve those laws here.
Americans get insurance in many different ways- from their employer, from the federal government, from state or local governments, or by purchasing it themselves on an insurance marketplace (such as healthcare.gov). Parity laws do not apply to all plans in the same way, and not all types of health insurance are covered by the Federal Parity Law or a state parity law.