Lessons About the Parity Act from Wilderness Therapy Cases
- June 01, 2020
- Thomas J. Sullivan , Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P.
- Cathryn Johns , Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P.
The Parity Act mandates that insurers cannot impose more stringent limitations on mental health benefits than they do on medical or surgical benefits. Wilderness therapy, a type of behavioral therapy, is an emerging but still unconventional treatment that uses stays in the wilderness to treat behavioral and mental health issues. A number of recent lawsuits, including many filed as class actions, have alleged violations of the Parity Act based on denials of this therapy by insurers. This Comment explores recent decisions in this area, including the framework courts have applied to deciding motions to dismiss, and lessons for practitioners and insurers about the plan language that is material to these decisions.
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