Behavioral health insurance plans Author:    Posted under: Health InsuranceHealth Insurance Types

Have you or anyone in your family ever needed medical help? How about treatment from depression, or other mental illness? If so, then you must know how it is a lot difficult for someone to get the proper medical treatment and the proper coverage than being treated from a physical difficulty.

It is good to know though that there are forces at work dedicated to helping people facing difficulties such as these.

There are two new federal laws that provide better insurance coverage for more people with mental health and substance abuse conditions. And they are just beginning to take effect, and advocates describe the changes as a huge win for consumers that will greatly improve treatment.

Mental Heath Parity and Addiction Treatment Act

The Mental Health parity and Addiction Treatment Act states that the mental health and substance abuse benefits that a health plan provides have to be just as generous as its coverage for medical and surgical treatments. The law does away with different co-payments, deductibles and visit restrictions.

“These financial equalizers will be very helpful to families that have not been able to access care before,” says Katherine Nordal, executive director for professional practice at the American Psychological Association.

The parity law — which was championed by former Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn. — doesn’t apply to plans at companies with 50 or fewer employees or to individual health insurance policies. The new health-care overhaul law, however, will eventually pick up the slack. Under this law, health plans sold through the state-based insurance exchanges that will begin offering coverage in 2014 must include mental health and addiction benefits, and the benefits must be on a par with a plan’s medical benefits. The exchanges will be open to individuals and to small businesses with 50 or fewer employees.*

Most plans until now have placed restrictions on the amount of visits, the amount of the deductible, and may have also had a lifetime spending cap in place, which would limit the amount of care the insured patient could receive. That is why it is a good idea for you to determine first what your rights are by looking up your state laws. Once you have been fully informed, begin to look for the plan that provides the best coverage available that is best suited to your needs. If you happened to already have health insurance, check to see if they have any and what kind of coverage your plan provides. In most cases, the coverage might have a higher deductible and/or higher co-payments than physical health insurance. If this is the case, there are other options that may be available to you, including an MSA or an FSA.

A Medical Savings Account or MSA is an option available to those who are self-employed as long as they have a high-deductible insurance plan or those who work for an employer with 50 or less employees. Medical savings accounts can be used along with your health insurance as long as it is your only insurance plan or as long as the deductible is high. All if not most of your medical costs can be paid from the MSA before reaching your deductible, except for premiums, unless you are between jobs and without income. One thing to note is that any money put into the MSA are tax-exempt and you get to keep any money that you don‘t spend. Money in the MSA can be also be withdrawn for non-medical expenses, but is subject to a 15 percent tax.

A Flexible Spending Account or FSA is much like a medical savings account, but these don’t have to be used with high-deductible insurance plans. Anyone whose employer offers these plans is eligible for an FSA. However, take note that any money not spent on medical expenses, once in the account, cannot be withdrawn for non-medical expenses.**

Even though getting mental health coverage may be taxing, it is an awfully rewarding thing to have should you or any of your loved ones be stricken with the illness. Always keep yourself up to date so as to be sure that you are getting yourself the best coverage that will suit your needs.



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