The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found many more types of mental health and substance abuse treatment exclusions in employers’ 2010 and 2011 plan documents than in the 2008 documents.
John Dicken, a GAO director, talks about those results in an introduction to a GAO review of behavioral health treatment exclusions in group health coverage.
The new report is a followup to a report the GAO released in November 2011.
GAO investigators asked participating employers a number of questions, including whether their most popular health plan excluded coverage for any specific treatments related to mental health or substance abuse.
The investigators received detailed responses to the question from just 81 employers for the 2011 study and 96 employers for the new study.
Dicken warns against taking the findings too seriously.”Given our overall response rate of 24%, our survey results are not generalizable,” Dicken writes in a letter summarizing the results for Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the highest ranking Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee.
But the percentage of employers reporting at least one behavioral health treatment exclusion increased to 41% for the new report, from 33% for the previous report.
Since the 2008 plan year documents were developed in 2007, employers’ overall benefits costs have increased significantly, the economy has weakened, and the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) has required employers that offer coverage for behavioral health services to apply the same plan design features to behavioral health and general medical health services.