A new study shows decisive action by health insurance providers…

WASHINGTON, DC – (August 4, 2022) – Every American deserves access to mental health support that is effective and affordable. A new study released today by AHIP highlights how health insurance providers are improving access to mental health care by including more high-quality providers in their networks, training and supporting primary care physicians (PCPs) to care for patients with mild to moderate behavioral health conditions and helps patients find available behavioral health appointments.

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Americans were struggling with mental health and substance use issues,” said Kate Berry, senior vice president of clinical affairs and strategic partnerships at AHIP. “The mismatch between mental health and substance use disorder providers and care seeking is a long-standing problem. That’s why health insurance providers are working hard to improve their provider networks and increase access to care.”

When health care providers participate in health plan networks, care is more accessible and providers are more accountable for quality. By offering plans with a wide range of mental health professionals in the network, effective mental health support is more accessible and affordable. And by integrating mental health care with primary care, health insurance providers are partnering with physicians and mental health professionals to meet patients where they are and offer care that is longer, holistic and effective.

Key findings from the study include:

  • All respondents (100%) provide coverage for telebehavioral health services.
  • The number of behavioral health providers in the network has growing by an average of 48% over 3 years among commercial health plans.
  • The vast majority of health plans (89%) are actively recruiting mental health care providersinclusive practitioners who reflect the diversity of the people they serve (83%), and 78% have increased payments to suppliers in their efforts to recruit more high-quality professionals to their plan networks.
  • The number of providers eligible to prescribe medication-assisted therapy (MAT) for substance use disorder, including opioid dependence, has more than doubled
    – growth of 114% in 3 years.
  • A strong majority (72%) of the plans are training and supporting PCPs to care for patients with mild/moderate behavioral health conditions.
  • A large majority (83%) of plans report that they are assisting enrollees in finding available mental and behavioral health appointments.
  • A large majority (78%) use dedicated case managers for follow-up after emergency department and hospital care and/or starting new medications.
  • More than half of Americansnearly 180 million, have employer-provided coverage for their health needs — which suggests an a major pathway to accessing much-needed mental health support.

“Health insurance providers are taking steps to improve mental health care by proactively identifying the behavioral health needs of their members, collaborating with providers and reducing stigma,” Berry continued. “While much work has been done, health insurance providers are realizing the need to address systemic challenges. This can only be achieved by all healthcare stakeholders working together to ensure Americans have affordable access to the high-quality mental health support they deserve.

AHIP conducted the survey on mental health coverage in the commercial market in May-June 2022. The survey targeted all AHIP member health plans with enrollments in the group (self-insured and fully insured) and individual (on and off-exchange) markets . The survey received responses from plans representing 95 million commercial participants.

Click here to view the survey.

Click here for more AHIP resources on mental health.

Click here to see the innovative actions the health insurance provider is taking in response to mental health care requirements.

Click here to view a brief description of the issue: Integrating Behavioral Health and Primary Care.

About AHIP

AHIP is the national association whose members provide health coverage, services and solutions to hundreds of millions of Americans every day. We are committed to market-based solutions and public-private partnerships that make health care better and coverage more accessible and affordable for all. Visit www.ahip.org to learn how, working together, we are leading better health.

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