Nearly 53 million adults ages 18 and older in 2020 suffered from some type of mental illness in the previous year, federal data shows. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the situation.
Where you think the industry stands as far as mental health parity—compliance with the Mental Health Parity Act and subsequent legislation?
Shawn Coughlin:Let me start by saying we have not gotten anywhere close to recognizing the vision of parity. We continue to battle some of the same issues that led to the parity fight in the first place. And that is denial of claims, overly aggressive use of utilization management techniques, all sorts of issues that we started this process on. …There have been some improvements. Some plans are better than others. But it’s only recently frankly.
Indira Paharia: I think as payers we’ve made a concerted effort on parity compliance. Of course there’s still a lot of work to do. … The essence of the law is ensuring fair and equal access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment, which is undeniably critical to achieving something like integrated care. No one will argue about the importance and value of the law, but the challenge is in the interpretation and the details of how we demonstrate compliance.