Mental Health and Insurance

Dealing with health insurance can be extremely challenging, especially if you are already dealing with stress and worry concerning your mental health. Healthcare in the US can be very expensive, so choosing the right insurance plan is very important. Because some insurance plans don't cover mental health care, it's vital to confirm what your plan will cover if you seek mental health attention.

Since the passage of the mental health parity law in 2008 and the Affordable Care Act, most insurance plans now cover mental health care--however, non-ACA plans may not. This is a significant improvement compared to before these laws, but mental health coverage is still sometimes not as comprehensive as other coverage. Make sure you are familiar with an insurance plan's mental health care coverage before you purchase it.

Choosing an Insurance Plan

When choosing your insurance plan, be sure to ask the following questions:

In addition to these questions, some insurance plans include limits on mental health coverage. For this reason, it's important to be aware of these limits before seeking treatment--or preferably, before purchasing your insurance plan. Common insurance limitations include:

Additionally, some mental health professionals do not take insurance, so check to see what the insurance plan will pay for out of network providers. Other factors to keep in mind include:

Every person is different and not everyone needs the same amount of insurance. Make a list of the type of care you anticipate needing, and make sure any insurance plan that you consider meets those needs.

Before Seeking Treatment

Before you seek treatment for mental health concerns, there are a few questions you should know the answers to. Review your insurance plan, and if possible, call your insurance company and ask the following questions:

Understanding Your Policy

If you're having trouble understanding your insurance policy, ask someone from your doctor's office or a trusted friend to help explain the information. If you have private insurance, you can contact your state Insurance Department or state Insurance Commissioner's office to ask for help in understanding your policy. They can also help you in dealing with your insurance company if you are having a problem, and figure out whether your benefits follow the state mental health parity laws. These are laws that guarantee equal coverage for mental health conditions as for other conditions.

Once you've developed a working understanding of your health insurance policy, you're ready to seek treatment.
Return to our Mental Health section for more information and help