Understanding Mental Health Parity
The Northwest Pennsylvania (NW PA) Veteran Suicide Prevention Program operates on a three-pronged approach involving healthcare providers, community organizations, and Veterans and their families in the 15 counties of NW PA.
Thousands of Veterans in our commonwealth and their family members have a mental illness or substance use disorder. Individuals living with a mental illness or substance use disorder should not be discriminated against. Mental illness and substance use disorders should be covered the same as any other illness-like cancer or diabetes. And it’s the law.
This article, and corresponding flyer, summarizes research conducted by Samantha Hernandez of our program team and explores the following topics:
- Federal Parity Law
- Pennsylvania Act 106
- Health plans that are/are not required to follow Federal Parity Law
- How to take action
Read time: 5 minutes
We encourage everyone to share this information with people in your network.
Understanding Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Health Insurance Regulations
Insurance companies and health plans that provide benefits for mental health and substance use disorders must ensure they are covered equivalently to the benefits for other medical conditions. This is because of a federal law called the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (parity law).
For Veterans and their families, we answer the following questions:
· How do I know if the parity law applies to my health insurance plan?
· How does the parity law apply to my insurance coverage?
· How can I tell if my health insurance plan follows the parity law?
· What can I do if I think my health insurance plan isn’t following the parity law?
A core component of suicide prevention is seeking care for any mental health concerns. The isolation experienced by many during the COVID-19 pandemic underscores the importance of parity as we collectively aim to meet the increased demands placed on our mental health care system.
After reading the information provided on our website or the attached flyer, if you still have questions about the parity law and how it applies to you, or if you wish to file a complaint, please visit the Pennsylvania Insurance Department’s Consumer Services Bureau or call the hotline at 1-877-881-6388. To connect with the Veteran community, please visit PAVET Connect.
Looking to Get Involved?
Whether you identify as a healthcare provider, community organization, or Veteran, there are several opportunities through the NW PA Veteran Suicide Prevention Program and PERU to connect to resources, participate in educational training, and promote harm reduction strategies. We are actively recruiting healthcare and community partners to work with us in meeting our goals and objectives. To learn more, visit the program website at theresilientveteran.org.
Need Help? Know Someone Who Does? Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or use the online Lifeline Crisis Chat. Both are free and confidential. You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor in your area.