The Mental Health Parity Act is a new law that is intended to end the practice of health providers offering fewer benefits on health plans for mental disorders than physical disorders.
Why Was This Law Necessary?
It was estimated that 90% of available employee benefit packages did not provided adequately for mental health benefits. Even when mental health benefits were available on employee health plans, there was a strict low annual dollar limit on mental health expenses.
Is There Any Limitation to This Act I Should Understand?
One key limitation of the Act is that it applies only to health plans and insurers that cover mental disorders in the first place. It does not mandate coverage for mental disorders where none is provided. Another unfortunate limitation is that the law does not cover businesses with 50 or fewer employees. A further limitation is that the act covers only mental illness. The act does not cover treatment for substance abuse or chemical dependency.
How Does the Act Define “Mental Health”?
The law does not define mental illness, but rather just says it applies to "mental health services" in individual health plans. Whatever mental health services the plan covers, it must cover at the same level as physical health services.
Does the Act Have Loopholes?
Critics have argued that the law has too many loopholes and exclusions to be effective. Fortunately, many states have passed their own parity laws, many of which provide broader protection.
Should I Contact a Lawyer?
You should first check your benefit paperwork. Then check with your human resources department to see if your benefits are up to par with the law. If you feel that your benefits are not adequate or your employer is not doing enough to make sure your benefits are up to the standard of the law you should contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss a possible lawsuit. Some lawyers may take a case like this on a contingency basis. If enough employees raise a stink about such an issue, a lawyer may be even more willing to take the case.