Health Care

Regulation gives parity for mental health coverage

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, right, thanks Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius,  after Sebelius announced easier access to mental health care during the 29th annual mental health policy symposium at the Carter Center on Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Tulis)

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, right, thanks Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, after Sebelius announced easier access to mental health care during the 29th annual mental health policy symposium at the Carter Center on Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Tulis)

A new Obama administration rule requires insurers to cover treatment for mental health and substance abuse no differently than they do for physical illnesses.

The Obama administration had pledged to issue a final mental health parity rule as part of its effort to reduce gun violence.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says patients seeking mental health or substance abuse care have at time suffered discrimination through higher out-of-pocket costs or stricter limits on hospital stays or visits to the doctor.

Sebelius says nearly 60 percent of people with mental health conditions and nearly 90 percent with substance abuse disorders don't receive the treatment they need.

The rule puts into effect legislation signed into law five years ago. Mental health parity also is required under the Affordable Care Act.