by Robert Pear
The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration issued new rules on Friday that promise to improve insurance coverage of mental health care for more than 140 million people insured through their jobs.

In general, under the rules, employers and group health plans cannot provide less coverage for mental health care than for the treatment of physical conditions like cancer and heart disease.

Insurers cannot set higher co-payments and deductibles or stricter limits on treatment for mental illness and addiction disorders. Nor can they establish separate deductibles for mental health care and for the treatment of physical illnesses.

Such disparities are common in the insurance industry. By sweeping away such restrictions, doctors said, the rules will make it easier for people to obtain treatment for a wide range of conditions, including depression, autism, schizophrenia, eating disorders and alcohol and drug abuse.

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