Parity and Health Care Reform

Reports from Mental Health America

Parity or Disparity

We live in a data driven society but the mental health arena has some catching up to do. While everyone is interested in outcomes, we have not yet come up with agreed-upon benchmarks by which to measure how well we are doing in addressing the mental health needs of Americans. A new report by Mental Health America: Parity or Disparity: The State of Mental Health in America, demonstrates how we can start to address this issue.

“This report is a call for key stakeholders, including our elected representatives, to have a conversation about how we want to measure outcomes in the mental health area and invest in doing so,” says Shel Gross, Director of Public Policy for MHA. “The Governor and Legislature made significant investments in mental health in the past legislative session—which are highlighted in the report—and all of us want to make sure that we are seeing the improvements in access and outcomes of care that we expect these reforms to achieve,” he added.

The report itself is instructive but not definitive. It chooses a limited set of measures, selected from credible national surveys that allow comparisons across states. But other analyses include different data. In 2013 the Wisconsin Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services completed a detailed analysis of mental health and substance abuse prevalence, access and outcomes in Wisconsin. This report shows some similar and some different conclusions from the Parity or Disparity report.

A Snapshot of Exchange Plans

While mental health advocates lauded the expansion of eligibility for insurance and inclusion of parity in the Affordable Care Act one outstanding concern was how well these hopes would be realized in the plans available through the health care Marketplace. A new report from Mental Health America: Behavioral Prescription Drug and Services Coverage: A Snapshot of Exchange Plans, suggests we have a way to go. There is considerable variation among the sample of plans reviewed, often resulting in vagueness about service coverage or worse, lack of access to effective and evidence-based treatments. This report can serve as a guide to advocates as they work with the Insurance Commissioners and health plans to improve mental health coverage.

Mental Health America Press Release >>