Parity means equal and fair treatment. Who doesn't want some of that? In mental health it means having the same health insurance coverage for mental health and/or substance abuse treatment as for physical conditions. Typically the number of visits for mental health services has been limited and the out-of-pocket expenses have been higher.
"Recovery brings hope," writes Paolo del Vecchio, director of SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) Center for Mental Health Services. "Recovery provides a common and motivating goal for consumers/peers, families, providers and service systems that people can and do heal, overcome their illnesses and live healthy, full and productive lives."
Del Vecchio elaborates that there are three primary goals for people in recovery:
- Improve their health, including behavioral and wellness.
-?Self-directed life, become more self-reliant and independent
- Strive to reach full their full potential, fully contributing to American life.
He also shares four focal points:
1. Health: access to affordable, accessible and high quality health and behavioral health care.
2. Home: a safe, stable place to live.
3. Purpose: meaningful, productive, worthwhile activities like job, school and family care-taking.
4. Community: relationships and social support from families, peers, friends and others.
Parity has been gained through the determination of people like Carol McDaid, activist and lobbyist for people needing and seeking recovery from addiction and mental illness. She writes, "In 1996, I began working on parity. Addiction was left out of the mental health parity bill." She worked to get a parity bill signed into legislation that included addiction.
Her personal experience informed her of what happens and what was needed. She "felt the discrimination against addicts who wanted recovery, even among mental health advocates." She celebrated the provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
"The goal is finding winning strategies, build coalitions and run plays that advance strategic objectives," she says. "Sadly, overdose deaths and suicides are an all too familiar reality to recovery advocates."
President Bush signed the bill into federal law in 2008.
"Parity and ACA have passed, the regulations are written and now we must offensively use the laws, the regulations, our grassroots and grasstops advocates to implement that which we have earneda cost savings solution to provide public and private payers." (To read her commentary in its entirety, visit online at www.drugfree.org/join-together/addiction/from-lemons-to-lemonade/.
What parity means to the consumer is having the same health insurance coverage for mental health and physical conditions. Prior to the Parity Law visits were limited in number and out-of-pocket expenses were higher. The Ohio Parity Law went into effect Oct. 1, 2007. The Ohio Department of Insurance explains that the law "requires that every policy of sickness and accident insurance must provide the required biologically-based mental illness (BBMI). There are exclusions to this law. Substance abuse and chemical dependency are not included in the definition of BBMI. Federal law supercedes state law in this. Questions may be directed to the Ohio Department of Insurance at 1-800-686-1526.
Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related mental health issues. For more information on our programs or this topic, contact us at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.