Is mental health covered by health insurance?

by Ali

We live in a stressful time and the news serves as a daily reminder that we, as a society, are largely hurting. Maybe it has to do with our culture and the constant stress of trying to compete with our neighbors to have it all. But what happens when you reach the top and still aren't happy? Recent events were a sad reminder that everyone has pain they are trying to deal with. We need to talk about it. 

Suicide by the numbers

A report issued by the CDC states that suicides are up 30% since 1999, approximately 45,000 people in 2016. To make matters worse, only half of those who died from suicide were diagnosed with a mental health condition, meaning a lot of people were left alone to deal with their struggles. Some factors of suicide are: relationship problems, substance abuse, job problems, financial problems, crisis, legal and health problems.

Mental health affects everyone, it doesn’t discriminate by class or social status. And just because someone appears to have the “perfect life” doesn’t mean that they are not struggling with something greater inside too.

Immediate sources for help

If you or someone you know are showing warning signs of suicide such as withdrawing from social contact or mood swings the first thing you need to do is take action. Listen to the person that is struggling when they talk about their feelings and encourage them to seek help or make an appointment for them. 

Help can be just a phone call away and there are many free resources available.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Free immediate counseling to anyone that needs it 24/7. The service is confidential and callers can speak with a trained crisis worker who will provide assistance and further resources. 

Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741

For those that prefer to text over talk this is a free 24/7 crisis support available in the US. Every texter is connected with a Crisis Counselor, a real-life human being who is trained to bring texters from a “hot moment to a cool moment.” The crisis hotline is not just for those contemplating suicide, rather it is open to any person facing a painful emotion that requires emotional support.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: 1-800-662-4357

Also known as, the Treatment Referral Routing Service, this Helpline provides 24-hour free and confidential treatment referral and information about mental and/or substance use disorders, prevention, and recovery in English and Spanish.

Next Steps: Finding Health Insurance with mental health coverage

Fortunately the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) requires that all marketplace health plans cover mental health and substance abuse services as essential health benefits. This means if you have a bronze, silver, or gold plan you purchased on or off the exchange your covered.

All plans must cover:

  • Behavioral health treatment, such as psychotherapy and counseling
  • Mental and behavioral health inpatient services
  • Substance use (substance abuse) disorder treatment

Plans vary state by state and it is important to find out the specifics of your own health plan before pursuing care. Remember to seek care in-network to eliminate your out of pocket costs.  

Pre-existing mental and behavioral health conditions are covered under the Affordable Care Act. In addition, yearly or lifetime financial limits on coverage of any essential health benefits (including mental health) are not allowed. Coverage for treatment of all pre-existing conditions begins the day your coverage starts; there are no waiting periods.

Take Command Health can help you find the right plan

If you’d like to find out what your options are for health insurance coverage, including your mental health coverage, but don't want to spend forever digging around the fine-print from health insurance companies or waiting on hold with, we would love for you to try our free service. We'll walk you through a short online interview to help you discover all your options, search for your doctors and prescriptions, and even help you simulate conditions. We'll then recommend the plan that we think will minimize your total costs over the course of the year. It's free to try and only takes a few minutes.

 Pinterest Mental Health

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Hi, I'm Ali! I wrote this blog because I love helping people decode confusing insurance jargon and understand the fine print. I'm a licensed health insurance professional and specialize in simplifying health insurance for individuals and small businesses. My QSEHRA articles have been featured regularly on Accounting Today, Accounting Web, HRWeb, and other industry publications. I'm also a member of Take Command Health's client success team and a full-time mom. Learn more about me and connect with me on our about us page. Thanks!