Magazine article Personnel Journal

Mental-Health Insurance Parity Bill Passes

Magazine article Personnel Journal

Mental-Health Insurance Parity Bill Passes

Article excerpt

STARTING JANUARY 1, 1998, HEALTH-INSURANCE PROVIDERS will no longer be able to impose lower spending limits on mental-health coverage than the limits they impose on physical-health coverage-such as medical and surgical benefits.

The new law passed in September after much effort on the part of the bill's primary sponsor, Senator Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.). Domenici felt called to push for the legislation after years of struggling with his daughter's illness, treatable schizophrenia. He also was spurred to action after hearing scores of other families' stories of trying to care for loved ones with various types of mental illnesses, only to be thwarted by their insurance companies' limits on mentalhealth coverage. Typically, managed-care plans have a $1 million lifetime limit for medical care but have only a $50,000 limit for mental-health care.

Called the "mental-health parity bill," the new law will require insurers and self-insured employers covering both mental illness and regular medical care to offer equivalent annual and lifetime payout caps for both benefits. …

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