(HealthDay News) – Implementation of legislation incorporating parity for substance use disorder (SUD) treatment has correlated with improved access to specialty treatment, according to a study published online Oct. 23 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Hefei Wen, from the Rollins School of Public Health in Atlanta, and colleagues examined the effect of state-level SUD parity laws on state-aggregate SUD treatment rates in a quasi-experimental study, mainly based on data from the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services. All known specialty SUD treatment facilities in the United States were included, and treatment rates were assessed from Oct. 1, 2000, through March 31, 2008.

The researchers found that the implementation of SUD parity laws correlated with a 9% increase in treatment rate in all specialty SUD treatment facilities and a 15% increase in facilities accepting private insurance. In all facilities, the SUD treatment rate increased significantly, by 13% and 8%, respectively, with full parity and parity only if SUD coverage is offered. In facilities accepting private insurance, these rates increased significantly, by 21% and 10%, respectively.

“We found a positive effect of the implementation of state SUD parity legislation on access to specialty SUD treatment,” the authors write. “Our findings suggest that federal parity legislation holds the potential to improve access to SUD treatment.”

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