Mental Health Coverage in the Healthcare Landscape

The United States usually spends about $135 billion dollars a year – 5.5% of national health care spending – on mental health treatment. Despite this money, many people do not have adequate access to mental health care. For example, almost 90 million Americans live in federally designated Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas.

Because of high costs, stigmatized attitudes, and general inaccessibility, it is difficult to increase insurance coverage for mental health, especially for populations such as teens and veterans. To improve overall care and rates of coverage the federal government approved The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) and The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The impact of the ACA on mental health is unclear. What is clear, however, is that this law will impact mental health insurance in several important ways. Here are a few big changes to be aware of under the ACA:

  • Mental health is considered an “Essential Health Benefit.  These are services that insurance plans must now cover.
  • Cannot be denied coverage due to preexisting condition
  • Mental health care will improve more in some states than others. Since individual states determine what is included in their mental health benefits package, states may be impacted differently by the ACA
  • Improves overall mental health care accessibility. Expanding Medicaid programs in certain states could positively impact general mental health care accessibility

There are many other changes that will occur as a result of the ACA and sometimes understanding these changes can be confusing. If you think you could benefit from working with a psychologist, searching our database can be a good start to find a professional who meets your insurance coverage needs.

To learn more consider these resources: