Parity for Mental Health Treatment Will Encourage Recovery
MERCERVILLE, NJ - Even though the federal government passed the Mental Health Parity Act in 2008, to this day people who are in need of mental health services struggle to access them due to network inadequacy, improper denials from their health insurance, and overly long wait times. In New Jersey, the Department of Banking and Insurance, which oversees health insurance companies and is responsible for parity enforcement, charges $25 to file a service denial complaint. The Department has not reported any parity complaints this year; however, even the people who are aware of the parity law and the procedure to file a complaint may be deterred by the $25 filing fee, especially if they already struggle with mental illnesses and financial issues.
NJAMHAA is a statewide trade association representing 160 organizations that serve New Jersey residents with mental illness and/or substance use disorders, and their families. For people with these illnesses, the lack of access to treatment which can result from unequal insurance coverage for behavioral health services, can be an insurmountable impediment to recovery. NJAMHAA works to address this problem by being part of the New Jersey Parity Coalition, a statewide grassroots network that works to improve mental health parity in our state. The Parity Coalition is currently drafting a state bill that would direct the Department of Banking and Insurance to investigate and enforce parity compliance, and deliver an annual report to the Legislature, among other provisions.
Debra L. Wentz, PhD., NJAMHAA President and Chief Executive Officer, said that "with parity of behavioral healthcare coverage, not only will consumers have the opportunity to greatly enhance the quality of their lives, but there will also be tremendous cost savings to New Jersey and the nation."
In order to promote recovery from mental illnesses and substance use disorders, NJAMHAA is working with the New Jersey Parity Coalition to push for true parity for coverage and access to behavioral health treatment. NJAMHAA also encourages residents to seek treatment if they are struggling with mental illness and/or a substance use disorder. To locate treatment, residents can visit NJAMHAA's website at www.njamhaa.org.