March 29, 2018: When a health insurer denies or limits care for mental health and substance use disorders, is it violating the law? New tools from the Legal Action Center (LAC) help individuals seeking care and their loved ones, providers, and advocates understand their rights to coverage under federal and state parity laws, and what to do if an insurer is violating those rights.

Federal and state parity laws require most health insurance plans (private and Medicaid) to cover substance use disorder and mental health benefits equally with other medical and surgical benefits. But many do not. New tools from the Legal Action Center help consumers to identify possible violations of parity laws through a list of “red flags.” This Red Flags tool is available to be downloaded and shared electronically in standard sizes, and is also available as a poster, which can be hung in waiting rooms, billing offices, or anywhere else consumers and providers might need help identifying possible violations of parity laws. To request that we send you a poster size version of the “Red Flags” poster, please fill out this form.

The red flags companion tool outlines steps to take when a “red flag” is identified, and provides specific contact information for the appropriate authorities in New York.

For more detailed information on the parity law, please see Health Insurance for Addiction and Mental Health Care: A Guide to the Federal Parity Law (2016). For additional parity resources from the Legal Action Center, please visit our Resources page.

LAC gratefully acknowledges the New York Community Trust, the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, and the Van Ameringen Foundation, whose generous support made possible the development and distribution of these resources. 



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