Mental Health Care Transformation Coming to America

Source: Dylan Scott, Governing, January 9, 2013

…The Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Barack Obama’s signature health law, includes arguably the most significant reforms to mental health coverage in our nation’s history. The ACA names mental health and substance abuse treatment as one of the 10 essential health benefits that insurance plans must cover starting in 2014. While most large-group plans offer some kind of mental health benefits, according to a 2011 HHS survey, only 18 percent of small-group and individual plans cover mental health, and a mere 34 percent cover substance abuse treatment. Those markets — which will make up the plans sold on the health insurance exchanges that are soon to be rolled out in every state under the ACA — should see a significant upgrade next year in the quantity and quality of mental health benefits that are offered. In addition to the essential health benefits provision, the Obama administration has pledged to implement the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. It requires insurers to cover mental health at a level that’s comparable to their physical health coverage. …