Pursuit of Parity: Where Ohio stands on insurance coverage of mental illness and substance use disorders
Analysis by the Center for Community Solutions
Source: The Center for Community Solutions
Adam White Policy and Research Assistant
May 20, 2019
Achieving parity in insurance coverage of behavioral health services is an aspiration that has evaded policymakers and consumer advocates for now more than half a century. At its core, “parity” in behavioral health policy, means that insurance plans that cover mental health and substance use disorder (SUD) services make those services equally accessible and no more cost prohibitive than medical and surgical services of comparable scope. Congress and state legislatures have passed numerous pieces of legislation aiming to ensure parity, but these laws have proved notoriously difficult to enforce.
- Despite mental health parity laws that were passed more than a decade ago, consumers have very little awareness of their insurance coverage rights for mental health and substance use disorder treatment.
- Ohio patients in need of behavioral health services are up to five times more likely to have to go out of network for treatment than patients in need of medical or surgical care.
- Ohio’s insurance laws are in conflict with federal parity laws that prohibit insurers from imposing limitations on mental health and substance use disorder services that are more restrictive than for physical health services.