Illinois Senate OKs Health Insurance Parity for Substance Abuse Treatment

IADDA CEO Sara Moscato Howe

(Springfield, IL) – May 27, 2011. The Illinois Senate yesterday approved, 49-08, legislation which will ensure that all health insurance policies sold in Illinois will cover substance abuse treatment, mental health care and other disorders without gouging consumers for this coverage.

“This landmark legislation will ensure that those who purchase health insurance in our state will now be able to seek medical attention for mental, emotional, and substance abuse treatment without having to pay for it out of pocket,” stated State Senator William Delgado (D-Chicago), Chairman of the Senate Public Health Committee, the chief sponsor of the measure in the Senate.

The legislation, House Bill 1530, requires that every insurer that issues health insurance in this State provides coverage for the treatment of mental, emotional, nervous, or substance use disorders.

Most importantly, the bill prohibits insurance companies from charging exorbitant fees for these services or  requiring consumers to pay a separate fee for the coverage of these services, according to Delgado.

“This is a momentous day for the people of Illinois,” stated Delgado.  “This is the first time in our history that we are telling insurance companies that they may not discriminate against those with mental, emotional, nervous or drug related disorders.”

“With the passage of this legislation, employers will see decreased health care costs and increased worker productivity.” said Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association CEO Sara Moscato Howe. “Additionally, across Illinois, we will see a reduction in accidents, absenteeism and crime while building healthy parents and families.”

Research shows that patients that have completed substance use disorder treatment have been shown to reduce emergency room visits by 39%, hospital stays by 35% and total medical costs by 26%, according to Howe.

The bill is being sponsored in the Illinois House by House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie).

“This legislation is an important step toward bringing health insurance parity to addiction health care,” said Lang.

This legislation now returns to the Illinois House to concur with the Senate’s Amendment.

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