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Mental Health Parity

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Updated July 05, 2009

Definition: Parity in the broadest definition of the word simply means equality; two items having equivalent value or status. When the term parity is applied to health insurance, all simplicity is lost. Currently, in the United States, health insurance does not always (read usually does not) cover all health conditions with parity -- in particular, mental health conditions. In example, most policies provide limitations to how often a patient can see a psychiatrist or how many days an individual can be treated in the hospital due to a mental illness.

Therefore, mental health parity -– also known as parity and mental health insurance parity -– has become a movement for equal health insurance rights. It is spearheaded by advocacy groups, particularly the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and has been a topic of political discussion and debate for over a decade. Provisional bills have been passed as well as many revisions and iterations of related legislation and many states have enacted their own laws.

In October 2008, the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 was enacted into law by President Bush.

Also Known As: Mental Health Insurance Parity or Parity

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