Mental health parity study yields $597K in fines

DOVER — The first of a series of mental health parity examinations on health insurers in Delaware has resulted in $597,000 worth of fines, the Department of Insurance said Thursday.
Required as part of legislation approved in 2018, the analysis focuses on compliance. Many violations were expected because this was the first assessment conducted by the department.
Mental health parity laws aim to eliminate coverage discrimination between policyholders seeking mental illness or substance abuse care and those looking for physical care. A lack of parity can prevent a person from pursuing needed care due to cost or limited access or otherwise make it more expensive or more time-intensive than medical visits.
In general, the violations identified by the department revolved around a lack of parity between mental health and medical/surgical procedures, medications and procedure pre-authorization requirements.
“After an incredibly thorough review, our team identified many changes that needed to be made to improve parity. Today’s announcement shows that there is more work to do to ensure those seeking mental health care can do so without undue expense or difficulty. I will continue to hold insurers accountable to meet our state’s standards,” state Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro said in a statement.
“Each violation incurred a fine, but it also brought about important conversations that will result in action, and insurers have been cooperative throughout the process and are already making improvements. We will be following up with insurers frequently and expecting substantial progress.”