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Healthcare Polcy Mental Health

359 words 2 page(s)

There are a multitude of aspects of healthcare policy that are of crucial importance to American society. One such policy relates to the issue of mental healthy – it is the Mental Health Parity Act. Signed in 1996, the act sets and mandates monetary limits on mental health benefits to be greater than the dollar limit imposed for medical and surgical benefits “offered by a group health plan or health insurance issuer offering coverage” (United States Department of Labor, 2008). The act recognizes the ills of mental disorders as similar to that of other physical illnesses.

Because the United States comprises of many states, there are different applications and policies of the Mental Health Parity Act. For instance, comprehensive parity mandates full coverage of mental disorders, inclusive of substance abuse related issues and does not exclude any significant policy groups. Broad-based parity makes the same provision but with certain predefined exclusions and limits.

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The state of West Virginia adopts the Mental Health Parity Act but is legislatively applied as that of limited parity, whose terms limits the Act’s equal coverage to a predefined list of mental health conditions and allows for the exclusion of certain policy groups (“Mental Health Parity Laws”, 2010). It further sets durational and financial limits and also cost-sharing requirements. Its exclusions are for caffeine, alcohol and nicotine-related disorders. It also included cost caps for large groups of patients. It however covers serious mental illnesses under its umbrella, like anorexia, bulimia, ADHD and anxiety disorders.

Ideally, I would like the legislature to follow that of broad-based parity, if not comprehensive parity. I believe that the adoption of limited parity serves as a disincentive for potential consumers of alcohol and nicotine products who may fall prey to its related disorders, and thus maximizes the payouts for arguably more serious or higher stake mental illnesses like ADHD and anorexia. However, a wider coverage will benefit the citizens of the state better.

  • United States Department of Labor (2008). Fact Sheet: Mental Health Parity Act. Retrieved from
  • (2010, May 5). Mental health parity laws by state. Retrieved from