How insurance gets away with denying mental health coverage, part 2

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In Part 1 of this article, we looked at how government inaction and a lack of federal input despite laws requiring insurers offer parity in mental health care have created a lack of coverage and a regulatory dead zone to insurance.

Now, we're going to examine why, even were that not the case, it's unlikely that those with adequate coverage will easily find providers who will accept it.

The limelight on mental health, thanks to the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting - warranted or not - has spotlighted the important issue of mental health coverage and access.

The Real Problem

While much of the government's focus has been on improving access through broader insurance requirements and availability, this approach ignores a simple truth: a large number of mental health providers do not accept insurance payments. Why? Insurance pays less and adds a hefty cost in paperwork and fees.

In short, the same thing that has actually restricted access to healthcare in this country - insurance, with its lower payouts and higher cost to providers - is seen by mental health providers as a burden they aren't willing to shoulder. As reported in Politico, many of the 552,000 or so providers in this country aren't interested in taking on those costs with limited rewards.

Worse yet, it's the small number of those providers who specialize in children that are least likely to accept insurance payments. And most of those who are accepting third-party payments (insurance) are only accepting government plans - Medicare, Medicaid and the like.

So while legislation to equalize mental health care with other healthcare would be great if it actually worked, it will not solve the problem and is barely half the battle.

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