Are mental health insurance mandates effective? Evidence from suicides



Many states in the US have passed laws mandating insurance companies to provide or offer some form of mental health benefits. These laws presumably lower the price of obtaining mental health services for many adults, and as a result, might improve health outcomes. This paper analyzes the effectiveness of mental health insurance mandates by examining the influence of mandates on adult suicides, which are strongly correlated with mental illness. Data on completed suicides in each state for the period 1981–2000 are analyzed. Ordinary least squares and two-stage least squares results show that mental health mandates are not effective in reducing suicide rates. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.