Understanding health insurance and coverage can be extremely complex. While most think of physical health and ailments when it comes to choosing a health insurance plan, mental health is just as important. This is because quality of life is not solely dependent on physical health but also mental. So, when it comes to health insurance, having a plan that includes mental health insurance coverage is vital.
What is mental health insurance coverage?
In recent years there have been a lot of changes when it comes to insurance benefits for mental health services. These changes are in line with the nation’s attempt to control health care costs. Because of this, it is so important to understand your individual mental health insurance coverage. Check your policy’s description of plan benefits, as it will provide detailed information on mental and behavioral health service coverage. If you still are unclear about your mental health insurance coverage, call your insurance company directly.
Types of health insurance
The level of coverage and accessibility of mental health services depends on one’s insurance plan. The most common types of health insurance include:
- Private health insurance – provided by private companies. Private health insurance is often obtained through an employer. Some choose to purchase private health insurance on their own, which tends to be more expensive.
- Medicare – a federal health insurance program for people aged 65 and older. Medicare has four parts – Medicare Part A is hospital insurance, Part B is medical insurance, Part C includes advantage plans, and Part D is prescription drug coverage.
- Medicaid – this Federal-State health insurance program is jointly funded to provide health insurance coverage for low income and higher needs individuals (i.e. – the blind, disabled, children, etc.)
- CHIP – low cost health insurance coverage for children whose caretakers earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.
- Tricare/VA Healthcare – health care program for uniformed service members and their family members.
In terms of identifying the best health insurance for mental health coverage, it is essential to do some research. Talk to providers and ask for mental health insurance quotes. If you are shopping for a health insurance plan through your employer, make sure the plan covers mental health services, as large employer plans are not required to. Additionally, look for mental health insurance coverage plans that cover a large network of providers. That way, you are not limited when choosing a mental health professional. Also important is to consider the financial aspect; take into account the various plan deductibles and out-of-pocket limits.
The Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), enacted in 2010, is considered the biggest healthcare overhaul since Medicare and Medicaid came into existence in 1965. A significant change associated with the passing of the ACA is that most individual and small employer health insurance plans are now required to cover services for mental health and substance use disorders. The ACA also ensures the coverage of preventative services, such as mental health screenings as assessments.