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Mental health-substance use services in hospitals up after parity law, finds new report
Date:2/26/2013

WASHINGTON, DC The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 ("Parity Act") increased access to mental health and substance use services in hospitals, yet consumers continued to pay more out-of-pocket for substance use admissions than for other types of hospital admissions, finds a new Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) report.

The report is one of the first of its kind to look at hospital spending, utilization, prices, and out-of-pocket payments for mental health and substance use admissions for those younger than age 65 with employer-sponsored health insurance. Between 2007 and 2011, spending on hospital admissions for mental health and substance use grew faster than spending on medical/surgical admissions. In 2011, spending on mental health and substance use admissions was driven by an uptick in utilization.

The Parity Act enhanced the 1996 Mental Health Parity Act by extending parity to substance use treatment. Under the Parity Act, large group health plans were required to make behavioral health coverage rules similar to medical/surgical benefit rules. Large group plans were also required to make copays, deductibles, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket maximums for behavioral health care equivalent with the most common medical/surgical treatments.

Substance Use Admissions Surge

In one of the first analyses of the law's impact, HCCI found substance use admissions grew by 19.5 percent in 2011 for people younger than age 65 and covered by employer sponsored health insurance. By comparison, between 2010 and 2011, mental health admissions grew by 5.9 percent and medical/surgical admissions declined by 2.3 percent for this population.

"There's extraordinary growth in hospital substance use admissions by people with private health insurance since 2009," said HCCI Board Chairman Martin Gaynor, E.J. Barone Professor of Economics and Health Policy at Carnegie Mellon Univers
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Contact: Jemma Weymouth
jweymouth@burnesscommunications.com
301-652-1558
Burness Communications
Source:Eurekalert

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