Discriminatory practices by the insurance industry, such as benefit limits (caps) on mental health services coverage, or complete lack of mental health care coverage fuel the disparate treatment of those with mental disabilities. These discriminatory practices have been the subject of much debate, and cases challenging those principles have not fared well in the court system. These insurance practices, which single out persons with mental illness and provide them with little or no benefits for mental health care, violate the terms of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), and are inconsistent with other laws that seek to remedy discrimination against the disabled, such as the Fair Housing Act. The following sections will discuss the legislative history of disability law with regard to how and why laws protect persons with disabilities. I will discuss the Americans with Disabilities Act, and its legislative history. Then, I will discuss interpretations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the arguments commonly used for and against mental and physical illness equality in medical insurance coverage. Next, I will provide a comparison of this interpretation with interpretation of the Fair Housing Act. Finally, I will suggest continuity and congruence throughout disability law to promote a system that lives up to the goals of disability protections.
Note, The Need for Parity in Health Insurance Benefits for the Mentally and Physically Disabled: Questioning Inconsistency between Two Leading Anti-Discrimination Laws, 18 J.L. & Health 263 (2003-2004)