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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Minnesota: Study Shows At Most Little Change in Mental Health Care Use and Spending Following Law to Improve Service Coverage

A new study by the University of Minnesota School of Public Health published in Psychiatric Services shows people are not using more mental health care after a U.S. law intended to improve employer-sponsored mental health insurance coverage went into effect.

The study, co-authored by associate professor Dr. Ezra Golberstein and led by PhD graduate and University of Pittsburgh assistant professor Dr. Coleman Drake, evaluated the influence of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) of 2008 on the use of outpatient and clinic-based mental health services and spending.

“Prior to 2008, many employer-sponsored health insurance plans offered mental health coverage that was not equal to the coverage people received for other medical services,” said Dr. Drake. “In response, some states enacted mental health care parity laws, but some didn’t. The Mental Health Parity Act of 2008 was an effort to change that across the country and ensure medical and mental health services were covered equally.”

To learn more about the effects of the act, the researchers reviewed data from 2005-2013 provided by the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a national survey completed by thousands of households that includes questions about mental health status and mental health services use.

We found that the federal parity law was not significantly associated with changes in mental health services use, such as the quantity used or total out of pocket spending,” said Dr. Drake.

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