Issue Brief: The Impact of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act on Inpatient Admissions

The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (“Parity Act”) increased access to mental health and substance use services in hospitals, yet consumers continued to pay more out-of-pocket for substance use admissions than for other types of hospital admissions, finds a new Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) report.

The issue brief is one of the first of its kind to look at hospital spending, utilization, prices, and out-of-pocket payments for mental health and substance use admissions for those younger than age 65 with employer-sponsored health insurance.

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Key Findings:

  • Substance Use Admissions Surge: Substance use admissions grew by 19.5 percent in 2011. By comparison, between 2010 and 2011, mental health admissions grew by 5.9 percent and medical/surgical admissions declined by 2.3 percent for this population.
  • Out-of-Pocket Spending: Out-of-pocket payments for substance use hospital admissions grew at twice the rate of out-of-pocket payments for mental health or medical/surgical admissions between 2010 and 2011.
  • Jump in Spending Accompanies Higher Use: The rise in spending was influenced by a significant growth in substance abuse admissions, which rose nearly five-fold from 4 percent in 2007 to 19.5 percent in 2011.

The report, “The Impact of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act on Inpatient Admissions,” reflects the national health care spending of more than 40 million people with ESI between 2007 and 2011.

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