Hot Topic: Nursing Homes for Sex Offenders & Violent Offenders

How to Tell If Your Health Insurance Covers Mental Health Treatment

8-23-2014 National:

For some, the stigma associated with mental illness keeps them from seeking help, but others may be avoiding treatment simply because they are unsure of whether they can afford it or whether their health insurance covers it.

Each year, more than 5 million American adults experience a major depressive episode and do not seek treatment, according to a recent NerdWallet study. While insurance coverage for mental health treatment is more widely available and comprehensive thanks to recent changes, some say it still doesn't go far enough.

If you purchased your health insurance through state exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act, mental health care is covered. It is one of the ten benefits that must be covered on all plans under the law. If you have insurance through your employer, there's a pretty good chance you're covered, too. A Society for Human Resource Management survey of 2014 employee benefits found that 87% of employer health plans cover mental health treatment. But exactly what mental health services are covered under these plans varies and depends on what medical services are covered.

Mental Health Parity Law

Historically, mental health coverage had been treated as a less important health concern than medical coverage by the insurance industry. That has changed over the years, culminating with the passage of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act in 2008. Also referred to as the mental health parity law, the act essentially mandates mental health and substance abuse coverage to be comparable to physical health coverage.

"New efforts are underway to expand coverage to the millions of Americans who have lacked access to affordable treatment for mental and substance use disorders," said Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, upon passage of the final parity rules. "These rules will increase access to mental health and substance abuse treatment, prohibit discriminatory practices and increase health plan transparency. Ultimately, they'll provide greater opportunities for affordable, accessible, effective treatment to Americans who need it."

The parity law says that insurance policies covering mental health care must treat that care as they do other medical coverage. If you generally pay a $40 copay for doctor's appointments and treatments, for instance, an appointment with your psychologist can't carry a higher price tag. ..Continued.. by Elizabeth Renter

No comments: