Image via WikipediaBy Emily P. Walker, Washington Correspondent, MedPage Today
Under a proposed rule released by the Obama administration, patients in a group insurance plan who are being treated for mental illness or substance abuse may no longer be charged more than if they were receiving medical or surgical care.
The Department of Health and Human Service (HHS), the Department of Labor, and the Internal Revenue Service issued an interim rule last week containing specific language necessary to enforce the bipartisan mental health parity law passed by Congress in 2008.
The law -- called the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act -- states that if a group health plan covers the treatment of mental illness or drug or alcohol abuse, the limits and financial requirements for these services can be "no more restrictive" than those that apply to medical and surgical benefits.
That means an insurance plan cannot charge higher copayments, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses for mental health services than for treatment of physical illnesses.