Behavioral Health Parity

Behavioral health parity (often shortened to “parity”) describes the equal treatment of mental health (MH) and substance use disorders (SUD) in health insurance plans. For example, when a plan has parity, it means that if a person enrolled in that plan has unlimited doctor visits for chronic conditions like diabetes, then the plan must also offer unlimited visits for chronic MH conditions, such as depression or addiction. Without parity, Georgia families are more likely to pay more for behavioral health services and even delay much-needed care.

The  Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAE) of 2008 requires that health insurers to cover MH and SUD equitably (“at parity”) to other illnesses. Despite this federal law, too many health insurance barriers exist for Georgians in need of MH and substance use care.

In 2022, GHF worked hand-in-hand with partner groups to pass HB 1013, the landmark Georgia Mental Health Parity Act (MHPA). The Georgia MHPA aims to improve access to MH/SUD treatment for all Georgians by requiring that insurers follow the federal parity law and giving the state the ability to hold insurers accountable when they don’t. You can learn more about the Georgia MHPA here.

Now, GHF is working to assist state agencies as they implement Georgia’s parity law. Our efforts include building capacity among insurance companies to follow the law; supporting state agencies to oversee insurers; educating consumers about their benefits and rights; and identifying remaining barriers to MH and SUD care within health insurance.  We know that without watchful monitoring of the law’s implementation and continued advocacy, Georgians will continue to struggle to access and afford needed MH/SUD treatment.

Learn more about GHF's advocacy around behavioral health parity through the resources and information on this page and GHF's behavioral health parity presentation, here

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