Helping patients understand mental health parity

In a recent APA survey, only 4 percent of Americans say they are aware of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, which requires mental and behavioral health coverage to be equal to or better than coverage for physical health. APA has developed free resources, including a consumer guide and a new video to educate the public.

Insurance coverage for psychological services is an important factor for many Americans when deciding to seek treatment for a mental health condition. According to results from a recent APA survey (PDF, 652KB), 75 percent of Americans said they would need to know if a psychologist or mental health professional accepts insurance before entering treatment. When asked why they or a family member would not seek treatment, concern about cost was the most frequently cited reason, with more than 1 in 5 (22 percent) saying that cost was a barrier to seeking treatment. 

Survey findings also revealed that even though more than 1 in 4 Americans (27 percent) have received treatment or therapy from a mental health professional, few people know that when their health insurance covers mental health, behavioral health and substance-use disorders, insurers are required to provide coverage that is comparable to coverage for physical health disorders. And only 4 percent of Americans say they are aware of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which was passed in 2008. The survey was commissioned by the APA and conducted online between March 7 and 24, 2014, among more than 1,000 adult Americans by Harris Poll. 

APA developed free resources, including a consumer guide and a new, informative video to educate the public about their mental health coverage. The materials are available on the Psychology Help Center to APA members and state psychological associations for distribution to patients and others in your community. 

The new video about the mental health parity law builds upon APA’s psychotherapy awareness video series. APA members and state psychological associations can link to the video and consumer guide from their websites.