Health equity is not just a trend, it’s the law.
For 14 years, since 2008, Federal law has prohibited discrimination in private health insurance plans if you live with a mental illness or substance use disorder. Connecticut was once a leader in legislating health access and now we are lagging behind. In 2018, our state received a “D” on our behavioral health parity Report Card from ParityTrack.org.
As of March 2022, here is where Connecticut stands:
As required by the 2019 Public Act 19-159, the first report identifying plan designs and disparities in behavioral health coverage was due April 15, 2021. However, the data received from insurance plans did not comply with the requested format and was deemed incomprehensible. This prevented the Insurance Commissioner from submitting an analysis of insurance industry compliance to the General Assembly, the Attorney General, Healthcare Advocate, and the Office of Health Strategy, which means health insurance plans in CT could be out of compliance with the Federal law.
While we lose ground legislatively, our friends and neighbors in Connecticut are:
- Not seeking treatment because they are unable to find providers who take private insurance
- Becoming more and more ill, which sparks avoidable results such as Stage 4 illnesses (often co-occurring physical and mental health issues), lapses in recovery, increases in overdoses, death by suicide, increased unemployment, costly and unnecessary ER visits, and more
- Put into a position, if they are age 26 and younger and covered by parent/guardian private insurance, to leave that insurance plan for Medicaid coverage so they can receive adequate treatment, thereby increasing the state of Connecticut’s costs and potentially causing stigma and discrimination barriers for the individual receiving government aid
- Unable to choose, with their provider, the best course of action for care or unable to focus on preventative measures or intervention that are critical to lowering health care costs and supporting a high quality of life that should be accessible to all
The November 2020 ruling that United Behavioral Health illegally denied tens of thousands claims for behavioral health will set a precedent for all states moving forward. Most recently, the Department of Labor reported in January of this year that companies’ health plans across the U.S. are still falling short on parity.
Despite progress in recent years, more remains to be done to enforce compliance and ensure behavioral health parity happens. In addition, some states are starting to think beyond parity to reshaping the delivery of behavioral health to better serve those who seek access to it.
To invest in the long-term health and wellness of our Connecticut residents, we must work together in 2022 to ensure we have Federal compliance with parity. Without parity compliance Connecticut will be unable to improve our health care system and allow for true health equity.
To learn more:
Successful parity reform requires a community effort. Contact us with questions or to learn how to support the work of the CT Parity Coalition.
The CT Parity Coalition is supported in part from the Beverly A. Walton Memorial Advocacy Fund.