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Americans support coverage of all levels of care for mental and addictive disorders, survey says

December 18, 2012
by Shannon Brys, Associate Editor
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The majority of Americans believe that health services that address mental health illnesses and treatments and addiction services "should be covered and part of any basic private healthcare plan," according to a national online survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies for the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems (NAPHS). A total of 93% agreed (including 57% who strongly agreed).

The survey was conducted as guidance and is continuing to be developed to fully implement the federal parity law (the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008). 

The survey found overwhelming support (81% total support) among adults for scope-of-service parity, defined as requiring "health insurance plans that provide coverage for both mental health and physical health to cover the same three levels of care and services [inpatient hospitalization – residential/rehabilitative services – outpatient care] for mental health and addiction as they do for physical health."  45% strongly support the proposal.  There was also significant support for the proposal across party lines. 

Among the reasons that respondents said they supported the need for coverage of all levels of behavioral health care (just as is done in general health care) were the following:

·       Proper mental health is perceived by respondents as being just as important as proper physical health with both contributing to an individual's total overall well-being.

·       Respondents tend to believe that mental and physical health are intertwined and connected to each other. Both directly affect the other, and therefore need to be treated equally.

·       They also tend to see that the benefit of addressing and treating mental health issues now is that they will save money in the long run.

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