Essential Benefits Key to Mental Health

Recommendations for the Affordable Care Act
Submitted by four national groups

Essential Benefits Key to Mental HealthFour national mental health organizations – the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Mental Health America, National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, and the National Council for Community Behavioral Health – have submitted recommendations to  regarding the definition of Essential Health Benefits under the Affordable Care Act.

The organizations represent consumers, advocates and providers of mental health services and express concern that the regulation defining Essential Health Benefits must ensure access to essential mental health services for those with mild, moderate and severe disorders.

They recommend:

  1. a skeleton basic benefit,
  2. that plans be given additional guidance on evidence-based services that can offset unnecessary institutionalization or future treatment costs, and
  3. that standards for access and coverage of the benefits are also provided.

As background, we know that individuals with mental illnesses and substance use disorders tend to have high health care costs due to the significant level of co-occurring disorders such as hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes. We also know that one way to reduce health care costs overall is to encourage insurers to provide effective and targeted services for this population.

The Affordable Care Act requires that the Essential Benefit package include mental health and substance abuse services at parity with other medical/surgical care, prevention services and rehabilitative services.

Click here to read the full recommendations.