“For too long, Americans suffering from mental health conditions have been stigmatized, misdiagnosed, and poorly treated,” said Whitehouse. “The new benefits provided through the health care law will complement the landmark mental health parity law championed by Congressman Patrick Kennedy in 2008, and are an important step toward improving care for mental health patients. It’s long past time to recognize that mental health is just as important as physical health by providing equal access to care, and the Affordable Care Act is helping us do so.”
Under the new law, for the first time insurance companies in the individual and small group market are required to cover mental health and substance use disorder services as one of ten categories of essential health benefits. Additionally, insurance companies must cover these services at parity with medical and surgical benefits, which means out-of-pocket costs for behavioral health services must be comparable to coverage for medical and surgical care.
An estimated one in five adults experiences a mental health problem in any given year.