The (Unintended) Consequences of Mental Health Parity Policy
February 01, 1998
On the surface, mental health parity does not appear to be controversial. Why should insurance companies and government insurance discriminate against patients with psychiatric problems? Making an artificial separation between psychiatric and medical illness makes little clinical sense. It is also clear that the treatment of psychiatric disorders often decreases physical symptoms, resulting in fewer visits to nonpsychiatric physicians. Cost estimates for mandating parity, although widely divergent, have generally been thought to be low. However, many seemingly benign regulations can often result in unforeseen costs and negative effects.