Parity Law Will Ensure Equal Treatment For Mental Health Disorders

When I received news from my professional group, The American Psychological Association Practice Organization, that three departments of our government have issued the final rule to implement an act that would level the playing field for those with mental health or substance use disorders, I was so excited that I shouted, “Yes, it’s finally happening and it’s about time!”

The act’s official name is The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). It “requires group health plans and health insurers to ensure that financial requirements such as co-pays, deductibles and treatment limitations applicable to mental health or substance use disorder benefits are equal to all medical/surgical benefits, in addition to ensuring equal treatment for residential and outpatient behavioral health care.”

Without jargon, the law, issued by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S Department of Treasury, will allow sufferers to be able to get treatment without being penalized or stigmatized.

As a therapist with a practice specializing in perinatal emotional disorders, I have witnessed the reluctance of women to get needed treatment. They fear that if they admit the illness, they will be stigmatized, and additionally, without insurance benefits, believe they could never afford needed care.

This law, when the final rule is enacted, will erase these barriers and provide access to mental health treatment and put insurance companies on notice that discriminatory practices will no longer be tolerated.

In my opinion, we all lose if mental health disorders are not treated. When insurers refuse to pay for treatment, patients and families suffer by paying out of pocket, or oftentimes being less likely to go for treatment. The community is also impaired when severe mental illnesses go untreated, with tragedies which could’ve been averted with equal treatment.

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~ by ppdsus on November 19, 2013.

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