ADEQUATE coverage for treating mental and addictive disorders is not as expensive as some estimates have held, according to a new study from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In general, cost considerations have kept health insurance plans from providing coverage for treating mental health and substance abuse on a par with that offered for general medical and surgical services.
The SAMHSA study, The Costs and Effects of Parity for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Benefits, details of which were presented at a Washington, DC, press conference last month, concludes that the premium to cover for substance abuse would, depending on the coverage provided, rise by less than 0.2%. However, the report noted, "full parity for both mental health and substance abuse services is actuarially estimated to increase premiums by 3.6% on average."
Marwick C. Parity for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment. JAMA. 1998;279(15):1151. doi:10.1001/jama.279.15.1151-JMN0415-3-1