Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Los Angeles Times Examines Potential Cost Of New Mental Health Parity Law

The Los Angeles Times on Monday examined how a new mental health parity law, which was included in the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street firms that President Bush signed last week, could affect the cost of health care in the U.S. (Worth [1], Los Angeles Times, 10/13). The legislation (HR 1424) requires group health plans of 51 or more employees to cover mental illnesses at the same level as physical ailments. It does not require the plans to offer such coverage but it must be equivalent if they do. The law, for most health plans, will take effect Jan. 1, 2010 (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 10/10).
According to the Times, an increase in group health insurance premiums is "[m]ost likely, but estimates vary."
According to Michael Carter, vice president of benefits consulting firm Hay Group, some small business owners might shift costs to employees or reduce workers' health benefits (Worth [1], Los Angeles Times, 10/13). Carter said the law could prompt some small businesses to eliminate mental health coverage altogether but that is not likely. He said, "There has been a continuous increase in copays for doctor's visits and drugs and hospitals, and here's yet another force entering in the equation" (Worth [2], Los Angeles Times, 10/13).

Source and more:
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/125522.php

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