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Community Behavioral Healthcare Associaton of Illinois

Archive for October, 2008

Wall Street Bailout Law Also Delivers Surprise: Mental Health Parity Benefit for All Americans

Posted by Frank Anselmo on October 6, 2008

(Washington, D.C.) — More than one-third of all Americans will soon receive improved mental health insurance coverage because of a new federal law included in the Wall Street bailout that requires equal coverage of mental and physical illnesses.

The requirement is the result of 12 years of mental health advocacy by friends and relatives of people with mental illness and substance abuse disorders.

President George W. Bush signed the law on Friday.

Most employers and health plans provide less coverage for mental health care than for physical ailments. Insurance benefits must now comply with the new law, which requires coverage parity.

For decades, insurers have set higher co-payments and deductibles and stricter limits on treatment for addiction and mental illnesses. Without those obstacles, the new law will make it easier for people to obtain treatment for depression, autism, schizophrenia, and alcohol and drug abuse.

Frank Anselmo, CEO of the Community Behavioral Healthcare Association of Illinois, said the law would create many improved changes at businesses across Illinois.

“A majority of Illinois insurance plans limit mental health hospital inpatient and outpatient visits for mental health treatments, but impose no such limits on many physical illness care,” said Anselmo. “No more.”

The law would improve coverage for 113 million people, including 82 million in employer-sponsored plans that are not subject to state regulation.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the new law will increase insurance premiums approximately two-tenths of 1%. The law exempts businesses with 50 or fewer employees.

The effective date will be January 1, 2010.

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