Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Parity for Substance Use Treatment Has Positive Effect on Treatment Rates, Study Finds

State laws requiring parity treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) that were enacted prior to the passage of the federal parity law in 2008 appear to have had a positive effect on treatment rates. Moreover, the more comprehensive the parity law, the higher the rates of treatment for SUD in that state.

Those were the findings of an analysis in JAMA Psychiatry of the effect of state-level parity legislation on access to specialty SUD treatment from 2000 to 2008 by psychiatrist Benjamin Druss, M.D., and colleagues at Emory University. They examined treatment rates at all known specialty SUD treatment facilities in the United States. Their main data source was the federal National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services, which provides facility-level information on specialty SUD treatment.

Druss and colleagues found that the implementation of any SUD parity law increased the treatment rate by 9% in all specialty SUD treatment facilities and by 15% in facilities accepting private insurance. Full parity and parity only if SUD coverage was offered increased the SUD treatment rate by 13% and 8%, respectively, in all facilities, and by 21% and 10%, respectively, in facilities accepting private insurance.

The researchers said that the findings bode well regarding the impact of the federal parity law. “Our findings suggest that federal parity legislation holds the potential to improve access to SUD treatment,” they concluded.

To read about issues involved in the 2008 mental health parity law, see the Psychiatric News articles ”Court to Hear Case Alleging Parity-Law Violation,” "Parity Law Celebrates Anniversary," and "APA Wants Parity Rules Clearer in Health Exchanges." Also see the Psychiatric Services study, "Effect of Insurance Parity on Substance Abuse Treatment."

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