Time was when mentally ill patients were considered weak willed or, even, possessed by the devil. But science has proven that many mental disorders are caused by a chemical imbalance, not unlike, say, diabetes. Problem is, insurance companies and employers refused to provide equal coverage.

Until now. In mid-September the Senate unanimously approved the Mental Health Parity Act, which requires insurers and companies to treat psychological, psychiatric and substance abuse disorders the same way as physical disorders on items like deductibles and co-pays. While it only applies to companies that already offer mental health benefits (most large corpora-tions), it will nonetheless improve benefits for more than 113 million Americans.

The House version, considered more expensive, applies to companies with fewer than 50 employees and allows more expensive in-network coverage A compromise favoring the Senate version is expected to be ironed out in conference and signed into law before year-end. By the time of its passage, the Senate version was backed by many of the groups that are often on the opposite side of healthcare expansions, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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