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Insurance Parity: So Close, And Yet So Far

President Bush with (left to right) Sens.Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Reps. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., and Jim Ramstad, R-Minn., at the ceremonial signing of the mental health parity bill.

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.


At least not when it comes to insurance parity. For all the years of effort devoted to ensuring that insurance companies cover mental illnesses as they do “physical” illnesses, the insurance companies have fought back with the relentless determination of a termite, quietly gnawing away at the support we so desperately need.

Which is why we must support the Parity Implementation Coalition and their upcoming hearings. At these hearings across the county consumers, providers, representatives from the business and insurer communities and state and local representatives will testify on parity implementation and enforcement.

If you are a patient or provider who has complaints,  the Coalition wants to hear from you. Depending on the nature of your complaint, the Coalition may be able to provide help in resolving your problem or point you to other resources. Reports will also help the Coalition identify potential patterns of critical concern to federal regulators.

The Parity Implementation Coalition was formed to help ensure that the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equality Act of 2008 (MHPAEA)— a federal law that protects a group health plan’s mental health and/or substance use coverage benefits — is properly enforced.

I have blogged before about parity before. I have been obsessed with parity for years. I actually predicted that it would not pass. And when it finally passed, I wrote about the monumental efforts of Patrick Kennedy and Jim Ramstad to push it through. I really believed Patrick Kennedy when he said parity was the great civil rights issue of our time.

I actually believed that with parity, the clouds would part, stigma would evaporate and society would accept mental illnesses- especially alcoholism and addiction – for what they are – an illnesses. Boy, was I wrong.

Those pesky insurance companies created new loopholes and found clever ways to dodge the new parity rules.

Which is why we really, really need to support these parity field hearings. Share your experience – or lack of.

Insurance Parity: So Close, And Yet So Far

Christine Stapleton

Christine Stapleton has been a journalist for 35 years. She is now an investigative reporter for The Palm Beach Post. In 2006, began writing a blog for PsychCentral called Depression on My Mind. Her latest blog, Addiction Matters, draws on her 19 years of sobriety and her coverage of the drug treatment industry in South Florida.

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APA Reference
Stapleton, C. (2012). Insurance Parity: So Close, And Yet So Far. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 24, 2020, from


Last updated: 2 May 2012
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