In July 2019, Governor Ned Lamont signed “An Act Concerning Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Benefits (Public Act No. 19-159), a law that received unanimous, bi-partisan support and requires that private insurance plans follow the regulations set forth in the 2008 federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). The Federal law states that health care coverage for mental health and substance use disorders can be no less restrictive than for medical and surgical benefits.
While we wait for data to be collected on insurance plans (thanks to the 2019 law) to see where the gaps in plan design and coverage exist, recent research presents evidence that parity reform in Connecticut is urgent.
On November 20, 2019, the actuarial firm Milliman released a groundbreaking nationwide study showing evidence that consumers across the country are finding it increasingly difficult to access affordable behavioral healthcare (mental health and substance use disorder treatment) under their private health insurance plans. The report sheds light on this disturbing trend over a five-year period beginning in 2013, which documented widening disparities in access to in-network services for mental health and substance use disorder treatment among 37 million employees and their families.
Sadly, Connecticut is ranked among the worst. Findings include:
- Connecticut outpatient access is the worst – ranking #1 – as the state most likely to see behavioral health office visits land out-of-network at 11.5 times the rate as for primary care office visits
- Reimbursement rates for Connecticut behavioral health providers were nearly 42% less than for other doctors
- Connecticut’s out-of-network inpatient use has nearly tripled in 4 years
- Out-of-network outpatient facility use in Connecticut is nearly two times the national average
“While I’m sickened and saddened to once again see Connecticut rank dead last when it comes to in-network coverage for mental health and substance use disorder, the recent findings by Milliman underscore why it was so important that we finally passed mental health party reform this year so that starting next year insurance companies will finally be held accountable for treating the behavioral health of their customers differently than physical health,” said Rep. Sean Scanlon (D-Guilford), co-chair of the Insurance and Real Estate committee.
Parity reform will continue to be a process. Be sure to 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.