Americans Are Unaware of Mental Health Care Rights

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act was passed in 2008, but only 4% of Americans are aware of the law, according to the survey commissioned by the APA and conducted online from March 7 to March 24. Katherine Nordal Ph.D. of the APA said, “The mental health parity law, together with the Affordable Care Act, has expanded mental health treatment opportunities to many Americans in need who may otherwise have gone untreated. But laws don’t have the intended effect when people don’t know that they exist.”

Under the parity law, insurance companies must provide mental and behavioral health coverage that is equal to or better than coverage for physical health, with no annual limits or higher co-pays or deductibles for treatment of mental health disorders or substance use. The law applies to most employer-provided health plans and to individual plans purchased through the new state and federal health insurance exchanges.

While the APA survey found that 61% of adults said that they have adequate mental health coverage, many report details of their insurance coverage that are at odds with provisions of the parity law. Twenty-nine percent say their insurance has different co-pays or other limits for mental health care; 24% aren’t sure if their insurance offers the same coverage for mental and physical health, and only 56% say that their health insurance provides coverage to see a psychologist or other mental health professional. For more information, visit http://www.APAhelpcenter.org.

Last Updated 11/18/2020

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