FACT SHEET: Federal Parity Task Force Takes Steps to Strengthen Insurance Coverage for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders
For too long, Americans paid for health insurance that did not recognize treatment for mental health and substance use disorders is as essential as other medical treatment. Untreated mental health and substance use disorders can be debilitating and life-threatening. These consequences are apparent in the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic, as well as the troubling rates of suicide and severe mental illness in this country.
One of the many important provisions of the Affordable Care Act and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act is to ensure that health insurance plans treat mental health and substance use disorders the same way that they treat other health conditions. In March of this year, President Obama established the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Parity Task Force and charged Federal Departments and Agencies to work together to ensure that Americans are benefiting from the mental health and substance use disorder parity protections under the law. Parity aims to eliminate restrictions on mental health and substance use coverage – like annual visit limits, higher copayments, or different rules on how care is managed such as frequent pre-authorization requirements or medical necessity reviews – if comparable restrictions are not placed on medical and surgical benefits.