2/4/2009 1:59:19 AM
HOFSTRA LABOR & EMPLOYMENT LAW JOURNAL
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Analysis on Parity Laws
A 1998 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (“SAMHSA”) on mental health parity laws51 concluded that, despite difficulties obtaining data on mental health insurance premiums,52 “[s]tate [mental health] parity laws have had a small effect on premiums.”53 While conducting their study, SAMHSA spoke to a variety of organizations affected by parity laws, such as government representatives, employers, and insurers, under a condition of anonymity to ensure confidential and accurate results.54 Its conclusion was based on four analyses: a comparison of twelve states’ parity legislation,55 case studies in five states that have had parity legislation for a minimum of one year,56 reviews of actuarial studies on federal parity legislation,57 and predicting from an updated actuarial model the costs of full and partial mental health parity. 58
Some parity laws provide an exemption for self-insured and small
employers will alter insurance practices to take advantage of them,60 but
SAMHSA’s research found that, despite what “[n]one of the insurers or associations of small identified [mental health or substance abuse]
one may have assumed, employers in [its] study parity laws as a main
51. MERRILE SING ET AL., U.S. DEP’T OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVS., PUB. NO. MC99-80, THE COSTS AND EFFECTS OF PARITY FOR MENTAL HEALTH AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE INSURANCE
BENEFITS (1998), 80/Prtyfnix.asp. 52. Id.
For two reasons, many informants could not say exactly if, or by how much, parity raised [mental health or substance abuse] costs or service use. First, data on the subject
were sometimes confidential.
Second, because [mental health
expenditures are generally a small portion of a health insurers do not allocate resources to collect these data.
or substance abuse] total premium, many
Id. The study compared Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, Maryland,
Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Texas, and Vermont. Id., tbl.1.1. 56. Id. SAMHSA conducted case studies in Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Texas, all of whom had parity laws in effect for at least one year prior to the studies. Id.
See, e.g., Arkansas Mental Health Parity Act, ARK. CODE ANN. § 23-99-504(8) (2006);
SING ET AL., supra note 51. 60. See SING ET AL., supra note 51.