Treatments For Mental Health: Biden Calls For Improved Insurance Coverage

Concerns About Better Insurance Coverage Have Been Made By President Biden

Biden Calls For Improved Insurance Coverage
Biden Calls For Improved Insurance Coverage (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

President Biden has voiced concerns about the disparities in health insurance coverage between mental and physical health care, emphasizing the need for more equitable access to treatments for mental health.

He recently introduced new rules as part of a proposed regulation aimed at strengthening existing policies and closing loopholes that have restricted treatments for mental health options covered by insurance. One of the main issues Biden criticized is the reauthorization process imposed by insurers, forcing patients to navigate bureaucratic obstacles to get their treatments for mental health expenses covered. This often involves referrals to see mental health specialists, but patients face delays and hurdles due to paperwork and special permission required from insurance companies. (Read the full article at WNYC)

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, a significant law enacted in 2008 to address parity concerns, did not fully resolve the problem. Insurers found loopholes to avoid paying for treatments for mental health, such as offering networks of mental health professionals that were not available to new patients or located too far away. Additionally, insurers resorted to repeated paperwork requests for treatments for mental health authorizations, creating burdensome administrative challenges for families.

The consequences of inadequate mental health coverage can be devastating, as serious mental illnesses can become life-threatening situations. Without insurance covering mental health care, individuals may face enormous out-of-pocket costs. For example, inpatient substance abuse treatment can easily cost over $100,000. Even families with financial resources often deplete all their available funds and credit to cover such expenses.

Stories of families facing financial ruin due to mental health care costs have surfaced, like the Michigan family NPR spoke to last year. Some families desperate for assistance resort to impoverishing themselves to qualify for public insurance like Medicaid. Others forego treatments for mental health, leading to worsening conditions or emergency room visits.

Read more: Volunteer First Responder Housing Act: Congressman Andrew R. Garbarino-Will The Housing Assistance Be Enough For The Beneficiaries?

Inclusion Of Biden’s New Proposed Rule

Biden’s proposed rule comprises three essential policy changes:

  1. Accountability with data: The government aims to address the lack of comprehensive data and clear definitions for tracking the impact of insurers’ policies on patients. The new rule requires insurers to report on coverage outcomes, demonstrating equal access to medical and treatments for mental health.
  2. Attention to payments and policies: The rule prohibits insurers from using techniques like prior authorization and narrow therapist networks to deny treatments for mental health. It also mandates insurers to establish similar out-of-network payment rates for treatments for mental health as they do for medical care.
  3. Closing a gap will increase coverage: The state and municipal governments’ health plans were exempt from compliance with the original mental health parity law. The proposed rule implements changes to close this loophole, extending coverage to approximately 200 health plans serving 90,000 people.

While the health insurance industry agrees with the goal of achieving parity between mental and physical health coverage, it highlights the challenge of a shortage of physicians and therapists. Kristine Grow, a spokesperson for America’s Health Insurance Plans, cited the lack of clinicians as a primary reason for the ongoing difficulty in accessing mental health care. (Read complete details at NPR)

Leave a Comment