Howard Goldman on Health Affairs Blog: A Misleading Suggestion Of Increased Utilization From Mental Health Parity

by Rebecca Farley on April 22, 2013

On April 10, Dr. Howard Goldman, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, wrote a column for Health Affairs Blog describing recent misleading reports that the 2008 mental health and addiction parity law has led to increased utilization of services. Dr. Goldman writes:

The Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) prohibits group health plans that cover mental health and substance abuse treatment from imposing higher cost-sharing requirements for these benefits, as compared to cost-sharing requirements for other conditions. Rigorous studies from Oregon and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program have not found that similar parity requirements resulted in increased costs.A recent report from the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) has been widely interpreted as suggesting that the MHPAEA and an interim final rule (IFR) implementing the statute caused an increase in hospital inpatient admissions for psychiatric conditions. However, the report does not support this interpretation.The HCCI released its report on trends in inpatient psychiatric admissions as if it evaluated the impact of the MHPAEA. But the report simply juxtaposes a longstanding trend of increasing hospitalization for psychiatric conditions between 2007 and 2011 with the observation that the MHPAEA and its Interim Final Rule (IFR) were implemented at the end of 2010 and in 2011. This tells us nothing useful about the impact of the MHPAEA… Keep Reading.

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