Sunday Health Policy UpDate
Sunday, June 4, 2006
E-Mail Sign-Up

Medicare Part D

Mental Health Coverage

Mental Health Parity


E-mail Alerts

Current Issue

Theme Issues

Contact Us

Health Affairs

Current Issue
on Mental Health

Subscribe Now
To Health Affairs

"the bible of
health policy"
--The Washington Post

Get the full picture
with Health Affairs'
Theme Issues

New postings and analysis from Health Affairs, the leading journal of health policy. Health Affairs publishes new research each week online at For more information, contact Chris Fleming at 301-347-3944.

Researcher Warns Part D Plans Might Underprescribe Psychotropic Meds

In the May/June Health Affairs, Julie Donohue asserts that the structure of the Medicare Part D drug benefit creates incentives for health plans to underprescribe persistently used and expensive medications such as psychotropic drugs. Donohue promotes close monitoring of the use of pharmacy management tools by drug plans, as well as improving the Part D risk-adjustment mechanism. She also suggests that Medicare should share risk with plans for prospectively identified high-risk beneficiaries, such as those with schizophrenia and other serious mental disorders.

Print editions of Health Affairs may be ordered for $35 each from Health Affairs' Customer Service at 301-347-3900 or online at

Stability In Mental Health Spending Overlays Changes In Sources Of Funding

Thanks to factors such as the spread of managed mental health care, new treatment technologies, and a growing supply of providers, the proportion of the gross domestic product spent on mental health care has been essentially stable over the last thirty years, Richard Frank and Sherry Glied report in the May/June Health Affairs. The authors say that dramatic shifts in the sources of financing for mental health care - toward public and private third-party payers and away from state mental health authorities - have spread costs more widely but led to the fragmentation of responsibility for people with mental illness.

Parity For Mental Health Benefits Would Not Raise Costs, Say Researchers

Also in the May/June Health Affairs, Colleen Barry and coauthors conclude that mandating comprehensive parity between mental health insurance benefits and other medical benefits would have little impact on total spending. Cost control techniques associated with managed care give health plans alternatives to discriminatory coverage for containing costs, the authors say, but they warn that this can be a double-edged sword: "Parity in benefit structures means little if alcohol, drug, and mental health care is managed more stringently than other types of health care."


Health Affairs, published by Project HOPE, is the leading journal of health policy. The peer-reviewed journal appears bimonthly in print with additional online-only papers published weekly as Health Affairs Web Exclusives at The full text of each Health Affairs Web Exclusive is available free of charge to all Web site visitors for a two-week period following posting, after which it switches to pay-per-view for nonsubscribers. The abstracts of all articles are free in perpetuity. Web Exclusives are supported in part by a grant from the Commonwealth Fund.


Subscribe today for full online access to Health Affairs--"the bible of health policy" (Washington Post, January 12, 2005).


Be the first to see what's new in health policy.

  • Sign up for Web Exclusive e-mail alerts from Health Affairs
  • NEW! Receive Health Affairs' headlines via RSS feed.

Health Affairs gratefully acknowledges the support of Health Care Update News Service in the dissemination of this e-alert.