The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has published a report detailing the barriers people still face to accessing mental health care despite parity legislation.
In the report, NAMI highlights the number of mental health providers who are not in-network with patients' insurance companies, the frequency with which patients must pay out-of-pocket, and the higher level of out-of-pocket costs for mental health versus other medical health care. Outpatient provider networks are also far better populated for physical health than mental health care. Patients are forced to disrupt their lives to access mental health care, cut back on care for financial reasons, or give up on it altogether.
NAMI recommends that insurance companies do the following to solve the problem:
- Maintain accurate, up-to-date directories of mental health professionals.
- Provide easy-to-understand information about mental health benefits.
- Promote integration of health and mental health care.
- Expand networks of mental health providers.
- Cover out-of-network care to fill gaps in providers.