This series of stories explores mental health parity— the concept and practice of treating mental and physical health equally—in North Carolina.
What is parity, why do we rank behind other states, and what do these rankings mean?
How to file a parity-related complaint
The Kennedy Forum offers a step-by-step guide for the appeals process.
Patients and providers can submit complaints to the NC Department of Insurance here.
After complaining to NC DOI, people can register their complaints with Parity Track, a database formed with the aim of changing national policy.
NC DOI is a NC Health News underwriter.
A federal law is supposed to guarantee that mental health patients get treated the same as other patients, but that’s not been the case for these three patients who tell their stories of struggling with insurance companies.
Patients aren’t the only ones affected by how insurers often treat medical and behavioral health issues differently—providers are also struggling to get by on reimbursement that’s often lower than that for physical health treatment.
Even when patients suspect insurers are not covering their mental illness on par with how they’d cover a physical problem, proving it can be a challenge.
Though historically the Department of Insurance accepted around half of complaints for external review, in 2018 that number jumped to 71.52 percent. Graph credit: Yen Duong
Most states don’t do well with mental health parity, but others are setting an example for enforcement.
Some states have involved mental health advocates in creating policies around mental health parity, and gotten more effective enforcement. States such as New York and Illinois are leading the way and showing the rest of the U.S. how to write and enforce policies that protect consumers of mental health treatment.
NAMI-NC and Mental Health America, which has five local affiliate programs in NC, both offer resources to support people and families dealing with mental illness.
This series was inspired by the ten-year anniversary of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and our Q&A with former congressman Patrick Kennedy, who founded the Kennedy Forum.
Former congressman Patrick Kennedy has a lot to say about the opioid crisis, medical marijuana and where the U.S. should go in addressing addiction.