Tuesday, February 5, 2013

New Study Finds Parity Doesn't Raise Mental Health Care Costs

While the nation still awaits the Obama administration’s final word on regulations to implement insurance parity for mental health services, new research indicates that spending on mental health services remained the same or declined in one major health insurance system that already requires parity, the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program.

Researchers compared 19,094 FEHB enrollees with 10,521 privately insured enrollees unaffected by parity. In the FEHB Program, total spending was unchanged among enrollees with bipolar disorder and major depression but decreased for those with adjustment disorder,” wrote Alisa Busch, M.D., M.S., of Harvard’s McLean Hospital, in the February American Journal of Psychiatry. Out-of-pocket costs for all three diagnostic groups were lower, and total annual utilization—for medication management, prescriptions, and hospitalization—remained unchanged compared with the FEHB's pre-parity costs.

“Parity implemented under managed care improved financial protection and differentially affected spending and psychotherapy utilization across groups,” concluded Busch and colleagues. “There was some evidence that resources were preferentially preserved for diagnoses that are typically more severe or chronic and reduced for diagnoses expected to be less so.”

For more in Psychiatric News about parity, click here. An abstract of the article in the American Journal of Psychiatry is posted here.

(Image: Skvoor/Shutterstock.com)


The content of Psychiatric News does not necessarily reflect the views of APA or the editors. Unless so stated, neither Psychiatric News nor APA guarantees, warrants, or endorses information or advertising in this newspaper. Clinical opinions are not peer reviewed and thus should be independently verified.