For decades, research has suggested that mental illnesses are just as real—and devastating—as more “physical” ailments such as cancer. Now health care coverage will finally reflect this scientific understanding: in October, Congress passed a bill, 12 years in the making, requiring equal insurance coverage for mental and physical illness. Most insurance companies currently impose higher co-pays and greater restrictions on treatments for addictions, mood disorders, autism, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. The parity law, which will go into effect for most health plans on January 1, 2010, will improve coverage for 113 million Americans, according to the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare.