May-21-2014

Does your health insurance cover mental health treatment? The answer may surprise you!

Mental health parity means that insurance covers physical health and mental health equally. Psychological treatment may be easier to get and pay for thanks to mental health parity.

Mental health parity means that insurance covers physical health and mental health equally. Psychological treatment may be easier to get and pay for thanks to mental health parity.

Four years ago, in 2010, I wrote this about insurance coverage for mental health care:

“Mental health parity is real. It is happening. But depending on the kind of insurance plan you have and the kind of treatment you want, you may have to jump some hurdles to get the benefits you deserve.”

At that time, the mental health parity law had only just taken affect, and since everything was so new, and there were still so many fine points to work out, not everyone was feeling the benefits of the law.

Not enough people know about mental health parity

Since then, the Affordable Care Act kicked in, meaning more Americans were covered by insurance plans that included mental health benefits with coverage that is comparable to physical health benefits.

But yet, a recent survey released by the American Psychological Association revealed that most Americans aren’t any more  aware of the term “mental health parity” than they were in 2010 (only 7 percent!). And while 61 percent of surveyed adult said they have adequate mental health coverage, many report details of their insurance coverage that seem at odds with the law.

As a psychologist, I’m disappointed to hear this. One of the reasons people give for not receiving professional treatment for their mental health issues is cost. Another is negative perception. While the parity law and the Affordable Care Act don’t remove the stigma associated with mental health disorders, they  significantly improve the access to and affordability of mental health treatment for millions more Americans.

But if people don’t know that it may be easier to get help, they’re less motivated to seek it.

Learn about your insurance benefits before you need them

Our new video helps explain how health care can help the whole body. Watch it. Share it. Let others know that for millions of Americans, mental and behavioral health care is a real option.

Insurance is complex, and we don’t always think about what it covers until we need it. Take time to look through your benefits and find out what your insurance covers for mental and behavioral health for you or an insured family member. You may have questions. Our new guide to mental health coverage – and what the parity law means – is a good place to start to get answers.

Have more specific questions? Ask your human resources department for a summary of your health benefits to better understand your coverage, or contact your insurance company directly.

Mental health parity IS real. It IS happening. People may still face obstacles and hurdles. It may be uncomfortable to ask questions, but you deserve equal benefits for mental health care if it’s part of your policy.

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