Mental Health Parity

The landmark Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA), signed into law by President George W. Bush, sought to end health insurance discrimination between mental health and substance use disorder benefits and any physical health benefits. 

The law does not require a health plan to offer mental health/substance use disorder benefits, but when they are offered, they must be on par with, or no more restrictive than, any physician/surgical plan benefits as they relate to financial requirements and treatment limitations.

What we now know is that health insurers are likely not complying with the full intent of the law, intentional or not, and state lawmakers and regulators are increasingly interested in ensuring compliance with parity. Complying with parity is complicated and stringent oversight and enforcement is needed. 

AACAP is actively involved efforts to advocate for more expansive parity through state and federal legislation.

Model State Parity Legislation

The American Psychiatric Association created parity-implementation legislation for all states and Washington, DC aimed at improving the transparency and accountability of insurers’ coverage of mental health and substance use benefits.

Research Reports:


National Organizations Support Mental Health Parity