The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA)

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA)

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) is a US statute that mandates that patients get an equal level of insurance protection for mental illnesses and/or substance use disorder (MH/SUD) disorders as they would for coverage of medical/surgical (M/S) treatments (Mulvaney-Day et al., 2019). In 2010, Pennsylvania became the first state to enact this law. In the past, M/S disorders were not always covered under the same health insurance plans as MH/SUD treatment. For instance, when mental health care was covered, there were frequently visitation restrictions and higher out-of-pocket expenses than when medical and surgical therapies were covered as well. It was modified by the MHPAEA. Insurance providers have to manage MH/SUD benefits in the exact same way as they manage M/S benefits in order to comply with parity, which mandates that both qualitative and quantitative constraints, such as visit restrictions or deductibles, as well as prior authorization standards and network inclusion criteria be parallel to one another.

The mental health parity law requires that large-group medical coverage plans cover psychological health benefits under the same condition as other medical services. For example, if there’s no limit on the number of specialist visits that are covered by the plan, a person’s plan cannot limit the number of therapy sessions either. If the plan covers medical hospital stays, it has to cover psychiatric inpatient care as well. The mental health parity law is important because many patients were struggling to access adequate mental health services prior to it being passed (Mulvaney-Day et al., 2019). It was common for health insurance plans to limit the number of therapy visits (For instance to 10 per calendar year), or to require authorization for each additional set of visits.

The policies of the early 2000s have significantly affected the mental health population 20 years later. Mental health policies were developed in the nineteenth century to care for people with mental issues and to address issues with population mental health. The majority of psychiatrists’ work during the first half of the twentieth century was done at these governmental institutions. By the turn of the 20th century, progressive reformers, together with mental health professionals and other behavioral health specialists, promoted reforming asylums and started the movement for mental hygiene (Sagar et al., 2020). The policies created after helped in promoting healthy lifestyles among the populace, preventing mental illness, and providing treatment and care in the field of mental health for those who needed it.

On 2023, it would be more effective to reopen psychiatric institutions rather than increasing psychiatric care in prisons. People with mental health issues need to actually treat patients in a humane manner rather than abusively as was the case in many prisons. However, they have to be treated with stipulations (Saya et al., 2019). First, it needs to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the patient can no longer live in the community and that they are truly a danger to themselves and others. Psychiatric institutions are more effective since they teach the ones who are likely to be released good work skills and ways to manage their medicine so that they can self-administer their own treatment. They also provide a safe, clean environment with plenty of good food, activities, and recreation. Patients can be released when ready and placed in a family-style group home. Unlike prisons, psychiatric institutions provide transition from the institution into the real world. They also patients a social worker and make sure that they are court ordered into a day treatment program if necessary (Saya et al., 2019). Psychiatric institutions make people with mental health issues are no longer a danger to themselves or other people. Institutions helps keep them safe and with compassion.


Mulvaney-Day, N., Gibbons, B. J., Alikhan, S., & Karakus, M. (2019). Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and the use of outpatient behavioral health services in the United States, 2005–2016. American journal of public health109(S3), S190-S196.

Sagar, R., Dandona, R., Gururaj, G., Dhaliwal, R. S., Singh, A., Ferrari, A., … & Dandona, L. (2020). The burden of mental disorders across the states of India: the Global Burden of Disease Study 1990–2017. The Lancet Psychiatry7(2), 148-161.

Saya, A., Brugnoli, C., Piazzi, G., Liberato, D., Di Ciaccia, G., Niolu, C., & Siracusano, A. (2019). Criteria, procedures, and future prospects of involuntary treatment in psychiatry around the world: a narrative review. Frontiers in psychiatry10, 271.


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