Further Support for Mental Health Parity Law and Mandatory Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Benefits
17 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2012
Date Written: February 1, 2012
In this Article, I provide additional support for my recent proposal (All Illnesses Are (Not) Created Equal: Reforming Federal Mental Health Insurance Law, Harvard Journal on Legislation, Vol. 49, forthcoming 2012.) to extend federal mental health parity law and mandatory mental health and substance use disorder benefits to all public healthcare program beneficiaries and private health plan members. I begin by examining health-related doctrine outside the context of mental health insurance law, including disability discrimination law, civil rights and human rights law, health information confidentiality law, healthcare reform law, and child and adult health and welfare law, and I find that not one of these laws provides inferior legal protections or benefits for individuals with mental illness. I also analyze international, national, state, and professional definitions of “health” that are used in a range of clinical, legal, and social contexts and find that these definitions uniformly fail to subordinate mental health to physical health and that these definitions identify both physical wellness and mental wellness as equal contributors to overall health. I further contextualize remaining legal distinctions between physical and mental illness in terms of the centuries-old mind-body problem, which continues to animate health law, philosophy of the mind, and other legal and philosophical doctrine. Finally, I suggest that the stigma associated with mental illness may be serving as a final — and perhaps most formidable — obstacle to complete mental health parity.
Keywords: mental health parity law, mental health benefits, substance use disorder benefits, public healthcare programs, private health insurers, health insurance law, mental health
JEL Classification: I10, I18, I19, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation