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Accessing Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Treatment

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 is a federal law that protects your mental health and substance use disorder treatment paid for by health insurance. This law requires certain health plans to cover mental health and substance use disorder benefits the same as they do physical health benefits.

What the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act means for you

Some examples of limits on physical and mental health and substance use disorder services are:

  • Copayments
  • Deductibles
  • Yearly visits
  • Prior authorizations
  • Proof of medical necessity 

The above costs and limits must be comparable to those of physical health services (such as medical and surgical benefits to treat physical conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes).

If you or someone else needs help

  • If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health issues that need immediate assistance, Crisis Connection provides free and confidential 24-hour telephone crisis counseling to Minnesotans at 612-301-4673.
  • Every county in Minnesota has a mental health crisis line. Get a complete list.
  • For individuals and family members facing mental health or substance use disorders, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Helpline at
    1-800-622-HELP (1-800-622-4357).
  • If you or someone you know is in a suicidal crisis, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides immediate assistance and connects callers to the nearest available suicide prevention and mental health provider at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
  • Get information on mental health services for adults and services for children.

How you may benefit

  • Health plans must charge copays for mental health and substance use disorder care that are comparable to physical health care.
  • There cannot be limits on the number of visits for outpatient mental health and substance use disorder care, if there are no limits for physical health care. Health plans must charge copays for mental health and substance use disorder care that are comparable to physical health care.
  • Mental health and substance use disorder services that require prior authorization must be equal to or less restrictive than the requirements for physical health services.
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