Buried deep within the novel length Bail Out bill passed last week, is a provision known as the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 requiring employers to equally cover mental health costs in their health coverage plans. The provision states that financial requirements and treatment limitations for mental health care, if covered, cannot be any more restrictive than those put on the group plan’s other medical and surgical benefits. What that could mean is that employees suffering from mental health issues would be able to continue coverage as they visit mental health professionals until they are deemed healthy. Currently many mental health plans limit the number of visits to mental health professionals.
Many critics of the provision fear that the new law will scare employers and prompt them to end any existing mental health coverage they offer employees because of the additional costs associated with extending that coverage. Already, health care costs in the Dallas area have increased 8.1 percent this year, up from 6.6 percent in 2007, according the Dallas Morning News.