219494 Barriers to Accessing Mental Health Parity Benefits and Quality Mental Health Services. Lessons from the Implementation of New York State's Mental Health Parity Law

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 1:15 PM - 1:30 PM

Vera Oziransky, MPH (Yale School of Public Health) , National Allinance on Mental Illness of New York City, New York, NY
Timothy's Law, New York State's mental health parity law, became effective in January 2007. The law extended mental health benefits and provided mental health coverage parity for employees of fully-insured companies and their dependents in New York State. The objective of this qualitative evaluation was to assess New Yorkers' awareness of their expanded benefits and to examine New Yorkers' access to mental health benefits and quality mental health services.

The evaluation consisted of confidential, in-depth, semi-structured telephone interviews. Eligibility criteria included the receipt of health insurance coverage from a fully-insured company, and the utilization of mental health services on a monthly basis at minimum, for a period of six months or more, since January 2007. A total of 54 participants were interviewed from October 2008 to May 2009; 32 were adults with mental illness and 22 were parents of children with mental illness. The majority of participants were not aware of the benefits mandated by Timothy's Law and less than 50% of participants were aware of their benefits expansion. Participants reported barriers to accessing mental health benefits and quality mental health services due to poor health plan communication, poor mental health provider quality, low “customary and reasonable” reimbursement for out-of-network mental health services, and additional effort necessary to access mental health compared to general health coverage. While these barriers must be addressed on a policy level, mental health service providers are in a position to educate their clients of their rights and enhance their access to quality mental health care.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify the barriers to accessing mental health parity benefits and quality mental health services. Formulate solutions for eliminating barriers to accessing mental health benefits and enhancing access to quality mental health services. Evaluate strategies for successful implementation of mental health parity coverage.

Keywords: Health Care Access, Mental Health Care

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I am the Principal Investigator of the Timothy's Law evaluation.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.