Last month, the U.S. Congress passed the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity & Addiction Equity Act of 2008, also known as mental health parity. This is important news – this law will end insurance discrimination against mental health and substance use disorder coverage for 113 million Americans. Some states, like Washington state where I practice, already have a mental health parity law in effect, however this federal legislation insures parity for every American.
When this law takes effect, which for most plans will be January 1, 2010, insurance companies will be required to provide parity benefits coverage in EVERY aspect of plan coverage—both in-network and out-of-network. Psychologists like myself see this as a giant step forward in eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health care.
If you would like to learn more about how the legislation works, including the specific aspects of coverage affected, visit www.apapractice.org.