The costs of mental health parity: Still an impediment?

Colleen L. Barry, Richard G. Frank, Thomas G. McGuire

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Parity in mental health benefits rectifies unfairness in health insurance coverage and reduces financial risk for those with mental illness. However, increased coverage for mental illness has been seen as creating inefficiencies and increasing total spending, based largely on results from the RAND Health Insurance Experiment conducted in the 1970s. Newer evidence suggests that cost control techniques associated with managed care give health plans alternatives to discriminatory coverage for containing costs. We review both eras of research on mental health insurance and conclude that comprehensive parity implemented in the context of managed care would have little impact on total spending.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)623-634
Number of pages12
JournalHealth Affairs
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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