Murphy signs bill requiring equal coverage for mental health

A new state law aims to ensure mental health and substance abuse are covered in the same way as physical ailments and conditions.

Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation Thursday that requires insurance providers in the state to comply with federal mental health parity laws and to increase their transparency and accountability.

Under the new law, health insurance providers must comply with the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, which prevents insurers from creating barriers to mental health treatment that don’t exist for physical care.

“No one should have to forego treatment or take on a monumental expense to receive care because of inequities in coverage,” Murphy said in a statement. “This new law enhances enforcement and oversight of mental health parity laws to ensure that mental health and substance use disorders are treated on par with physical health conditions.”

Insurance companies will have to submit an annual report to the state Department of Banking and Insurance to demonstrate that they’re in compliance. The department will then be required to submit a report to the Legislature and post it publicly.

The law goes into effect in June.