Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

Grant Activity: Current Activity Impacting Communities

Evaluating State Mental Health and Addiction Parity Statutes: A Technical Report

A newly released report evaluates the strength and quality of state statutes created to ensure insurers treat mental health illnesses, such as depression and substance use disorders, the same way they treat illnesses of the body, such as diabetes and cancer. 
  • 32 states received failing grades, while the state of Illinois was identified to have model state statutes.
  • The collaborative research team employed a systematic, rigorous and replicable scoring index to identify states with strong, quality statues and those who have opportunities to improve. 
Download the Resources


  • The nation has made some great strides in mental health prevention and care, especially as we think about the 10th Anniversary of the Mental Health Parity Law—which requires that mental health and substance use disorders are covered the same way as physical health conditions.
  • However, many of our families are still being denied care when they need it most and can’t advocate for themselves on their own.

In light of current alcohol, opioid, and suicide epidemics, we know that our nation’s citizens don’t have adequate and equitable access to mental health care, and that strong stigma still exist in our communities as barrier to the utilization of mental health care, but a critical and achievable step for us to begin to treat mental health and addiction care as a human right, is for state statutes to make parity a priority

  • States can define mental health and substance misuse/abuse conditions to include all disorders in the DSM or ICD with no exclusions.
  • States can expand coverage with a benefit management process that requires copays and out-of-pocket cost for mental health and substance mis-use/abuse services are the same as physical illnesses.
  • States can monitor and strengthen enforcement of compliance with the Federal Parity Law by mandating all health benefit plans submit annual analyses demonstrating compliance.