Mental Health Parity

Historically, health insurance covered mental health care differently than other medical care. Recent laws have begun bringing them into balance.

A chronically ill man depends on a trustworthy caregiver for assistance.

Traditionally, insurers and employers have covered treatment for mental health conditions differently than treatment for physical conditions.

Coverage for mental health care had its own (usually higher) cost-sharing structure, more restrictive limits on the number of inpatient days and outpatient visits allowed, separate annual and lifetime caps on coverage, and different prior authorization requirements than coverage for other medical care.

Altogether, these coverage rules made mental health benefits substantially less generous than benefits for physical health conditions.