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Harv Rev Psychiatry. 2006 Jul-Aug;14(4):185-94.

The political evolution of mental health parity.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University School of Medicine, 60 College St., New Haven, 06520 CT, USA.


This article traces the evolution of the mental health parity debate in American politics, with a focus on how interest groups and politicians have attempted to influence perceptions about treatment effectiveness and the cost of benefit expansion. When parity laws are in place, they require health plans operating in the private health insurance market to provide an equivalent level of coverage for mental health and general medical care. Business and insurance industry groups oppose parity due to cost concerns. The mental health community has framed parity as an antidiscrimination measure that would achieve greater insurance equity across disease groups. The role of personal experience with mental illness among lawmakers and others in framing the parity debate is also considered.

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