The Wellstone-Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (“Parity”) is in effect as of 1/1/2010. In theory, this means that insurance coverage for mental health should be applied no differently than for physical health (cf. “Summary of the New Parity Law“).
In practice, Rate The Insurer is certain that insurance companies will continue to do what they have always done: maximize profits by avoiding responsibility, especially on the backs of individuals with mental health conditions and the mental health professionals who provide care.
In theory, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury are responsible for seeing to it that insurance industry meets its responsibilities under parity. In practice, no regulations have been completed to date. The Secretary of HHS, in letters to Senator Franken and Kennedy, specifically said her department is late in producing these (due October 2009, new “goal” January 2010). No enforcement process currently exists.
The insurance industry will certainly drive their money sucking trucks through this. In practice, parity does not really exist until there is functioning, vigorous, effective enforcement.
That means it will be up to mental health professionals, and people with mental health conditions who are discriminated against as they try to use the benefits they thought they had purchased, to document the abuses that will continue to occur. Insurance companies must be named and specific practices documented.
Rate the Insurer is unaware of any other systematic efforts to collect and document parity abuses. Violations of federal mental health parity should be collected in an organized manner so that if and when actual enforcement is implemented, the pattern of abuse as well as specific acts may be provided to enforcement agencies.
In the mean time, it should be useful to document the abuses publicly, to name the names of abusive companies and report their specific discriminatory and unlawful actions.
This page is created for for just those purposes.
If you are:
- A person who has been discriminated against by an insurance company as you try to use your insurance policy mental health benefits
- A mental health professional who has been discriminated against by an insurance company as you try to provide care for a client
- A business owner who contributes to the purchase of health insurance for your workforce with an employee who has been discriminated against as s/he tries to use mental health benefits you thought you had purchased
- A human resources or benefits manager who manages the insurance policies your employer purchases who is aware of an employee who has been discriminated against in their use of mental health benefits