WA: OIC clarifies residential mental health parity

Residential mental-health services now on par with medical coverage

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has clarified to insurance companies in Washington that mental-health services must now be offered in parity with medical services.

The commissioner updated rules on mental-health parity in 2014 and asked insurers to review previous mental-health claims that had been denied under a blanket exclusion. He asked insurers to rectify those denials.

The need for clarification arose after a consumer filed a complaint with our office after being denied for residential mental-health treatment. The individual said this violated federal laws regarding mental-health parity.

The federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 requires insurers in Washington to provide residential mental-health benefits to consumers on par with similar medical health benefits.

Most insurers were already providing the mental-health services on par with medical services. The consumer complaint prompted further clarification.

Better access to mental-health treatment continues as a top public policy priority in Washington. Consumers with concerns can contact the commissioner’s office at any time for information. Consumer advocates are also available to take calls toll-free at 1-800-562-6900.


Engage with healthcare leaders and policy makers on this and many other important issues at the 2015 Inland Northwest State of Reform health policy conference on September 15th.