In a move being lauded by mental health advocates around the country, the Obama administration released a new provision of the Affordable Care Act compelling most insurance providers to expand coverage for mental health services to match their existing coverage for medical and surgical care.
“This final rule breaks down barriers that stand in the way of treatment and recovery services for millions of Americans,” said Kathleen Sebelius, United States Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Currently, patients needing mental health care were often responsible for significantly higher out-of-pocket expenses and were restricted in the number of visits they could make to a provider or the number of days they could spend at an in-patient facility.
With the new regulations, coverage for mental health services must match that given for medical and surgical care with regard to:
- Limits on the number of visits to care providers
Though large group health insurance plans are not required to cover mental health, the new rule will ensure that any coverage they do provide match the level of that provided for other types of treatment. Individual and small group plans will be required to offer mental health services as well as meeting the parity standards.
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