Mental health, addiction services up in hospitals, but so is out-of-pocket spending

A new Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) report has found that access to mental health and substance abuse services in hospitals has increased since the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. The bad news: Consumers are still paying more out of their own pockets for substance abuse admissions.

HCCI sought to examine the impact of the 2008 act by considering data on hospital spending, utilization, prices and out-of-pocket payments for mental health and substance abuse admissions for those younger than 65-years-old and who carried health insurance through their employer.

According to the report, between 2010 and 2011, out-of-pocket payments for substance use hospital admissions increased by twice the rate of consumer payments for mental health or medical and surgical admissions. There was also a significant rise in substance abuse admissions–from 4 percent in 2007 to nearly 20 percent in 2011. 

In an HCCI press release, Executive Director Dr. David Newman said:

“While it is too soon to understand the full impact of the Parity Act, we need to be looking carefully to make sure we understand why these hospital out-of-pocket payments may be growing at a faster pace than medical spending. Moreover, while there is widespread interest in better understanding the drivers of cost and utilization, the drivers, whether they … benefit design, the economy, or something else, need to be monitored so we better understand them.”