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New HHS regulation requires mental health care parity

As our readers know, the issue of mental illness and mental health care has been in the news a lot in recent months. As recent tragic events have highlighted, those with mental illnesses all too often don’t receive the care they need when they need it.

A new rule published by the Department of Health and Human Services seeks to address the situation in a small way by requiring health insurers to cover mental health services at the same level as coverage for medical and surgical procedures. Many insurers do not presently cover mental health care at the same rate as other health care, and this all too often has the effect of preventing people with mental health issues from seeking the care they need. 

The changes, which were imposed under a 2008 law, only apply to large group health insurance plans. These plans are not required to pay for mental health care, but the law requires that if they do, they must do so at a level equivalent to the way they cover other types of health care. Obama’s new health care law does require that individuals and small group plans include mental health coverage, and these plans are also bound by the equality standards.

Mental health impairments can be seriously disruptive for those who live with them. Conditions like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia can prevent individuals from maintaining steady employment and caring for their families. Fortunately, individuals with such conditions may qualify for Social Security disability benefits, but strict standards must be met. Those who feel they may qualify should contact an experienced SSDI attorney to have their case evaluated. 

Source: Disability Scoop, “Feds Expand Mental Health Coverage,” Michele Diament, November 11, 2013.

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