A Snapshot of the Implementation of California's Mental Health Parity Law

Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

This study, based on more than 60 interviews, assesses the perceived objectives, initial experiences, and anticipated outcomes of implementing California’s 1999 mental health parity law.

March 2002

In 1999, California passed a mental health parity law (AB 88) requiring private health insurance plans to provide equal coverage for physical health and selected mental health conditions, including serious mental illnesses (SMI) in adults and serious emotional disturbances (SED) in children. The law requires health plans to eliminate the benefit limits and reduce the cost-sharing requirements that have traditionally made mental health benefits less comprehensive than physical health benefits.

This study’s purpose was to assess the perceived objectives, initial experiences, and anticipated outcomes of the law after its first year of implementation. Results from the study are intended to help identify the early successes, as well as the remaining challenges, in implementing the parity law. More than 60 individuals representing more than three dozen stakeholder organizations at the state and local levels were interviewed for the study.

The full report can be found under Document Downloads below.