Why Health Insurance Providers Must Address Access to Mental Health


A large association of health insurance providers set objectives for providers to strive for. InsuranceProviders.com’s health insurance expert, Melanie Musson, explains how insurance providers have developed new approaches to mental health and why implementing these strategies can help their bottom line. 

America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) is a national association of health insurance providers whose members provide health insurance to hundreds of millions of Americans. In August, they outlined recommendations for health insurance providers to better approach the mental health concerns of policyholders.

AHIP’s recommendations align with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act requirements for mental health coverage by health insurance. And insurance companies that want to remain competitive in an environment more and more dependent on mental health care must ensure their policies provide access to mental health for all individuals.


Insurance Providers Are Reaching Mental Health Coverage Goals

Earlier this month, they published a report highlighting some of the progress insurance companies have made in reaching those goals.

For example, Allways Health Partners and Lyra Health have teamed up to provide a streamlined and accessible mental health program. Amerihealth Caritas is putting effort into matching policyholders with mental health professionals who understand and support their culture. 

And the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation signed a three-year grant for Chris Atwood Foundation to provide intermediate mental health care for high-risk individuals making transitions.


Telehealth Is a Critical Component in Addressing Mental Health

Implementing telehealth options is a critical piece of the mental health strategy for many insurers. It’s no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdowns led to an increased demand for telehealth mental health. In fact, telehealth visits increased 100-fold from 2019 to 2020. 

While insurance companies scrambled to work out coverage for telehealth visits in 2020, enough time has passed that they should have clear procedures and guidelines.

Insurance companies covered telehealth as part of their strategy for reducing the spread of COVID while also enabling access to mental healthcare. 

The long-term benefits of telehealth soon became apparent. Some individuals have a challenging time going to in-person appointments if they have children in the home, don’t have access to reliable transportation, or face anxiety about leaving their homes. 


Providing Coverage for Mental Health Helps Providers Stay Competitive

So, insurance providers need to proactively search for methods to address mental health, from providing coverage for telehealth to forming partnerships with organizations that can enable them to cover their policyholders’ needs better. 

Making mental health a priority will help increase insurance providers’ competitive edge and will help reduce the potential for high claims costs associated with unaddressed mental health crises.

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