US to Require Insurers to Cover Mental Health

The Obama administration will require insurers to cover mental health and addiction just as they cover physical illnesses.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius made the announcement at a mental health conference Friday morning at the Carter Center in Atlanta with former first lady Rosalynn Carter.

"This is the largest expansion of behavioral health coverage in a generation," Sebelius said. "The rule is a reality in part because of the leadership of President Obama, who was committed to getting this done this year."

The administration will post the parity rule for mental health later Friday morning, Sebelius said.

"There's no question we have to expand access to treatment, services, and support," she said.

The rule will guarantee that health plans' co-payments, limits on visits to providers, and deductibles for mental health benefits match those for medical and surgical benefits. It will also ensure that there is parity in residential treatment and outpatient services, a win for the mental health care community because so much of treatment of those suffering from mental illness or addiction is in those settings.

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