The financial rescue bill that was recently signed into law to help stabilize the economy received a great deal of attention in the media. One part of this bill, however, was not discussed much but is a huge step toward receiving more comprehensive treatment for mental illness under group insurance plans.
The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 was included in the financial rescue bill. It was signed into law on October 3, 2008. This act governs group health insurance plans, with groups of 51 participants or more. It will not require groups to provide any mental health coverage, but it does have requirements for groups that do provide mental health coverage.
The bill requires equal coverage of mental illness with other physical conditions. In particular:
- Equity in financial requirements, such as deductivles, co-payments, coinsurance and out-of-pocket expenses.
- Equity in treatment limits, such as caps on the frequency or number of visits, limits on days of coverage, or other similar limits on the scope and duration of treatment.
- Equality in out-of-network coverage
These safeguards and protections for people with mental illness would not impact anyone currently living in a state where consumer safeguards are more stringent than those offered under this law.
No matter what your thoughts may be on the financial rescue plan, the consumer safeguards given to anyone seeking treatment for mental health issues, the passage of this law is a step forward and is welcomed.
Published On: October 10, 2008