MHPAEA leads to increased spending on outpatient substance abuse treatment

MHPAEA leads to increased spending on outpatient substance abuse treatment

March 08, 2019

MHPAEA leads to increased spending on outpatient substance abuse treatment

Addiction Substance Abuse

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) has contributed towards increased expenditure on outpatient treatment pertaining to substance abuse, without contributing much to increase the expenditure on outpatient mental health care. This finding was released by Norah Mulvaney-Day and her team of scientists through a report published in February 2019.

Norah and her team was hired by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to carry out an assessment of the impact of the MHPAEA on outpatient care expenditure, in the large-scale group insurance market. According to the existing law, it is not mandatory for any insurance plan to offer addiction treatment or mental health benefits to the enrollees.

In cases where an insurance plan does offer mental health or addiction treatment benefits, it is mandatory to provide behavioral services coverage comparable to the coverage for other related physical health issues like liver or heart ailments. Also, in lieu of these, the insurance plan cannot levy stringent quantitative coverage limits (in the form of higher deductibles). Apart from this, the plan cannot levy stringent non-quantitative treatment limits (in the form of stricter utilization review programs). These regulations enforcing the parity requirements pertaining to the MHPAEA act have been effective since 2011.

MHPAEA has negligible impact on number of people seeking mental health treatment services

The team of researchers discovered that the act had a negligible impact on the percentage of people seeking outpatient addiction treatment or mental health services. Further, neither did the law hugely impact the number of services utilized by the enrollees seeking mental health coverage. However, the increase was observed in the average amount of outpatient services offered every month, which rose from around 2.1 in 2005 to 2.8 percent in 2015.

The act had a larger impact on the usage of outpatient care by individuals dealing with substance abuse issues. For such individuals, the average monthly expenditure per person seeking addiction treatment, increased to $1,000 in 2015 compared to $600 between 2005 and 2011.

Reason behind increased addition treatment spending

The key reason behind this increased expenditure on addiction treatment services, was an increase in the average number of treatment services used per affected individual. The team of researchers stated that this increase did not reflect due to an increase in the number of addiction treatments sought per individual or the average cost of an outpatient addiction treatment service.

The analysis findings further mentioned that the expenditure incurred on addiction treatment was just a small fraction of the overall expenditure incurred on behavioral health. However, the percentage of addiction treatment services offered by out-of-network providers increased significantly during the time of this study.

Important to look for reasons for shift

The research team said that the future course of investigation should focus on the reasons behind this shift and the inadequacy of provider networks. According to them, it may become difficult for patients to find in-network providers. Some of the important observations that need to be considered include questioning if these patterns indicate provider shortages or the usage of narrower provider networks by the plans following parity.

They also suggested that for further research, the scientists need to focus on what the insurance plans are paying the in-network treatment providers. This is important, as it will reveal if the plans are paying less leading to providers not accepting insurances.

Recovering from substance abuse

Substance abuse often leads to tolerance, dependence and then addiction. An addiction is a type of brain disorder that entails compulsive drug seeking and abusing behavior despite being aware of its negative consequences. An individual may be addicted to various substances, including alcohol, drugs, marijuana, prescription drugs, etc. Unfortunately, any kind of addiction is challenging to overcome on its own. One must seek professional help to tackle this debilitating brain disease. Invictus Health Group offers various addiction treatment programs in California to help people deal with addiction and embrace long lasting recovery.

If you or a loved one is battling with substance abuse and are looking for reliable drug rehab centers, get in touch with the Invictus Health Group by calling our 24/7 drug addiction treatment helpline 866-548-0190. At Invictus Health Group, we offer comprehensive evidence-based treatment plans for patients seeking substance abuse treatment. You can also chat online with our experts who can guide you with substance addiction treatment help and suggest a detox program best suited to your needs.

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