President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that his administration is seeking new rules to push insurance companies to increase coverage of mental health treatment.

The new rules, which still must go through a public comment period, would require insurers to study if customers have the same medical and mental health benefits and fix any disparities if they don’t.

“You know, we can all agree mental health care is health care,” Biden said in a White House news release. “It is health care. It’s essential to people’s well-being and their ability to lead a full and productive life, to find joy, to find purpose, to take care of themselves and their loved ones. It’s about dignity. Think about this.”

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, passed in 2008, requires insurers to offer the same mental and physical health care coverage, which isn’t the case now.

“Folks, it shouldn’t be this way,” Biden said at a White House event highlighting the announcement. “It doesn’t need to be this way.”

“But, right now, for millions of Americans, mental health care and treatment for substance abuse is out of reach,” Biden added. “It’s out of reach. In 2020, less than half — less than half of all adults with mental illness diagnosis received care for it. Less than half.”

If finalized, the new rules would change that.

“I don’t know what the difference between breaking your arm and having a mental breakdown is — it’s health,” Biden said. “We must fulfill the promise of true mental health parity for all Americans now.”

More information

Visit the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health for more on mental health.

SOURCE: White House, news release, July 25, 2023