Many insurance policies do not provide adequate coverage for mental disorders such as schizophrenia, ADHD, and anxiety disorders. Many people do not seem to realize that treating anxiety disorders requires both medication and frequent visits to the psychiatrist. The cost of treatment adds up over time, becoming a crushing burden if health insurance does not provide financial assistance. Unfortunately, even when health insurance plans offer mental health coverage, they often charge higher deductibles and severely limit treatment. This makes it difficult for those with mental disorders to get the treatment they need. Fortunately, it is only a matter of time before insurance providers will be required to provide basic coverage for anxiety disorders.
Insurers realize that mental disorders often require lifetime treatment. This makes them somewhat reluctant to cover the cost of medication. From a business perspective, insurance companies believe that covering mental disorders will make them lose money. While this might be true, it makes the lives of people with mental health disorders difficult. Many insurance companies compensate for potential losses by requiring higher premiums and deductibles. They hope that by severely limiting the amount of mental health coverage they provide, people with mental disorders will not file an excessive amount of claims.
The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act passed two years ago addresses some of these concerns. The act requires insurers to provide mental health coverage benefits equal to those provided for other medical conditions. In other words, this law will do away with excessively high deductibles and low treatment caps. Unfortunately, this law only applies to group health plans and businesses with more than 50 employees. It also does not require health insurers to provide basic coverage for mental disorders. It is a significant step in health care reform, however.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that was passed this year should further decrease the gap between mental health coverage and coverage of other types of conditions and medical procedures. This act, among many other things, states that insurances plans sold through state exchanges must provide a basic level of coverage for mental disorders. This law applies to small businesses and individual plans. The law will go into effect in 2014. This will greatly increase the scope of insurance coverage and will provide insurance to an additional 32 million Americans. Although these laws increase coverage for anxiety disorders and other mental health problems, there is still a long way to go before everyone with a disorder can receive adequate care.