Mental Health Will Get Same Co-Pays and Deductibles As Other Treatments

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Insurers warn that the new federal rule could push premiums up, but for those with mental illness it may mean greater access and better treatment.

You can call this one Bushcare. Or at least Bush-Obamacare.

A 2008 law called the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Act, passed under President George W. Bush, required that mental illness be treated the same as other kinds of illness. On Friday, the Obama administration announced a new rule related to that law.

“The rule guarantees that health plans’ co-payments, limits on visits to providers and deductibles for mental health benefits match those for medical and surgical benefits,” NBC News says. “It also ensures equal treatment for residential and outpatient care, a long-sought benefit in the mental health community.”

Insurers argue that it’s difficult to make an apples-to-apples comparison between physical and mental illnesses, and that the rule could increase premiums, USA Today says. Mental health experts have countered that earlier detection would lower costs in the long term and help people live more productive lives.

The new rule is not directly related to the Affordable Care Act, but there is a synergy between the two laws. “People with pre-existing mental conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or depression will no longer be denied insurance coverage — and under Obamacare, a mental illness diagnosis will no longer trigger a potential loss of coverage,” CNN says.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called the rule, combined with Obamacare, a “historic expansion [that] will help make treatment more affordable and accessible” for the mentally ill.

Stacy Johnson

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