Getting help for mental health care can be tough for some people, especially without insurance. Of the 57.7 million people who suffer from mental health disorders or addiction, only 26 percent receive the vital care they need. Luckily, federal laws are making it easier for Americans to obtain mental health care.
Background on Mental Health Treatment in America
As recent as 2008, federal mandates have made it possible for Americans to receive mental health treatment. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, enacted in 2010, made it so that group health insurance plans offering mental health care benefits could not place restrictions on benefits, as opposed to other health care treatments. What this meant is that if your insurance plan offered care for mental health problems, you would be covered for those as much as you would be for other health care costs.
The New York Times recently addressed the issue of mental health care and President Obama’s nationwide health care plan. The Obama administration ruled that “essential health benefits” must be offered by most health insurance companies starting in 2014. Although those “essential” benefits were not necessarily made clear, it did state that 10 categories of care would be encompassed, including mental health, maternity, and hospital services.
This new law will make mental health care more accessible to approximately 32 million Americans. It requires coverage for mental health disorders (including behavioral disorders), and drug/alcohol abuse and addiction. Finally, the gap in needing and receiving care may be shortened. Those currently with benefits may also see improvements in existing coverage. The plan is not perfect, as coverage can vary from state to state, but it does indeed make seeking and obtaining treatment more of a possibility for those who need it.
Using Your Insurance for Mental Health Treatment
Knowing more about your insurance policy can help you make an informed decision about receiving care. Before you decide on a treatment facility, you’ll need to investigate a few things:
- What’s your policy? Take a look at your insurance policy and talk to a representative from your insurance company. Determine what exactly is covered for mental health and the out-of-pocket costs you may incur.
- Referrals and networks. Some companies require referrals from a primary health care provider before you can seek specialized care. Also, look at your available network to see what options are already available to you. If none or few are provided, what are the costs to you if you seek help outside of your insurance network?
- Dollars and cents. Learn more about your deductibles and cost of care before you decide on a facility and treatment plan. There may be some financial limitations that can hinder or impede your continued health care treatment. Additionally, you may experience limitations placed on the number of hospital or physician visits that are covered under your plan.
- Diagnosis. Make sure you understand what types of mental health care treatment are provided to you under your insurance plan. Many insurance plans do not cover pre-existing conditions, so it’s worth it to look into what is and is not covered.
When the time is right, call us here at FRN to find out more about getting treatment for your mental health condition. We have qualified, experienced treatment coordinators who are well-equipped to discuss treatment options and payment issues with you. Our goal is to help you live a full life. Even with mental illness, living an otherwise normal life is completely possible, and we want to help you make that happen. 844-768-1248
David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.
Reviewed by: Kim Chin and Marian Newton