Are you still confused about how mental health care and insurance work together? 

If you are — you’re definitely not alone. As the importance of self-care and improved mental health care are a few of the hot topics of the day — there’s no wonder that health insurance companies and major employers are making the investment into employee behavioral health care benefits.

In this article, we discuss the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act MHPAEA including who’s covered, who’s required to provide benefits and how substance abuse and drug addiction factor into the equal opportunity health care act.

Let’s start with the basic provisions of what the MentalHealth Parity and Addiction Act and what it covers.


Mental Health Parity & Addiction Equity Act – Benefits, Services, and Eligibility

The Parity Act (enacted in 2008 and amended in 2010) requires large employers who provide health insurance benefits to their employees to provide comparable benefits for medical and mental health care services under their group benefits plans.

A major component of the act changes how mental health care benefits are assigned. The MHPAEA federal law enacted in 2008 makes it possible for group health benefits plan subscribers to receive equal coverage for medical and mental health care. This includes all financial payments for deductibles, co-payments, and annual out-of-pocket limits. 

Many employers (and employees alike) aren’t fully aware of the provisions included in the federal act that now offers coverage for mild to severe mental health treatments at the same coverage level as other medical health care based services. 

Eligibility — So, who’s eligible for coverage under the MHPAEA? People Insured through their employer (or other large group health plans) are eligible for coverage under the act. People who are uninsured or underinsured (including those who qualify for state benefits like medicare or medicaid) can also receive mental health coverage under the MHPAEA.

 

An important change to the Parity Act happened in 2010. They amended the act in 2010 to include behavioral health coverage for individual insurance plans. 

Want to learn if your employer covers mental health services under your insurance plan? Contact your insurance benefits provider directly to learn more about what type of coverage you have.

MHPAEA Benefits – Equal benefits with no lifetime limits for mental health disorders, mental illness, substance abuse disorders. People are eligible to receive medical/mental health treatment from licensed and board-certified providers in their state of residence.

 

Covered mental health services include: counseling, psychotherapy, medication management, referrals, case management. 

 



Mental Health Services – With over 43 million people in the US suffering from mental health disorders annually, the MHPAEA was introduced at an opportune time. As we become more aware of the mind/body connection, we’re learning that mental health care and physical health are equally important.

Gone are the days where mental health was considered a secret or stigma. Under the MHPAEA, consumers, employees and employers alike are finally getting the mental health services they need.


According to the NationalInstitute for Mental Health (NIMH), the following are statistics related to the prevalence of mental illness and mental health disorders in the United States. 

The NIMH reports that at least 46.6 million adults in the United States live with mental illness annually. 

(5) Common Mental Health Disorders In The United States 

  1. Anxiety – a nervous disorder characterized by severe anxiousness, unease, panic attacks, and compulsive behaviors. 
  2. Depression – a medical condition that causes sadness and loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy. Also known as major depressive disorder (MDD). 
  3. Post-traumatic stress disorder – a condition of severe mental and emotional stress in response to a traumatic event or psychological shock. They associate PTSD with sleep disturbances, flashbacks, and anxious behavior. 
  4. *Bi-polar disorder – a mood disorder marked by periods of emotional highs and lows that vacillate between elation and depression. 
  5. *Schizophrenia – a serious and long-term mental disorder characterized by faulty perception, inappropriate actions, and a fragmented mental state. 

*Conditions marked with an asterisk are “severe or serious” according to medical and mental health professionals. Severe conditions require a higher standard of care that involves intensive monitoring, psychotherapy support, and inpatient hospitalization. 

Serious mental health effects can limit or impair functioning and lower the quality of life of someone who has serious mental health issues. A person with mental health issues may have trouble concentrating, completing everyday tasks like self-care routines, and maintaining employment. 


Who “Doesn’t” Benefit From The MHPAEA?

Self-Employed, Freelancers, Entrepreneurs, And Other Independent Workers

People who are self-employed won’t benefit from the MHPAEA. They don’t qualify for coverage under the federal parity regulations. Other mental health options for people who are self-employed can be found through free, reduced, and low-cost mental health care options.

Popular online providers like BetterHelpDoctor On Demand, and Talkspace offer online access to licensed medical doctors including psychiatrists and other mental health professionals online.

Uninsured – People who opt for no health insurance coverage at all aren’t able to take advantage of the provisions included in the Mental Health Care Parity Act. This is because individuals with no insurance coverage aren’t eligible to receive services under an employer plan, individual plan, or state-sponsored plan.

If you find yourself in this situation, don’t be afraid to seek free or low-cost mental health care services from public health care clinics or online — instead of opting to bypass mental health care. 


Upcoming: Free and Low-cost healthcare options for freelancers (and self-employed writers and marketers).

 

Writer. Marketer. Influencer. #Gamechanger 

msloydwrites

Follow @msloydwrites on social media for more updates on hot topics like these!

 

What Happened to Last Year’s Resolutions??

As we bring 2019 to a close and reflect on our accomplishments, how did you do? Did you meet the goals that you set for yourself at the beginning of the year? If not, did you at least make steady progress toward your goals? Every step counts — congratulations on making it through another busy year. Whether you met the goals that you set for yourself this year, or you still have more work to do you, we can all agree that 2019 was a whirlwind year!

We’re pleased to say that one of the most controversial topics of our time — mental health care — is finally getting the attention it deserves. In this article, we touch on a hot topic in mental health news — mental health care in the workplace. Keep reading to learn what we’ve discovered about mental health in the workplace this year — plus get links to some of the best mental health resources available online.

Chronic Mental Health Issues + Workplace Stress

If you suffer from issues with chronic mental health like depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), then you already know how hard it can be simply getting out of bed each morning. When we add in the daily responsibilities of caring for families, children, and spouses, mental health issues can become amplified even more. What’s even scarier about this part — is that we haven’t even mentioned going to work yet. (Or, taken care of ourselves.) 

Unless you’re declared fully disabled by a doctor or other licensed medical authority, chances are that you have to learn to live and work — with the painful symptoms of chronic mental health. For people suffering from symptoms of anxiety, sometimes just the “thought” of going in to work itself, can trigger a panic attack. So what do you do when you have no other alternative? You grin and you bear it — right? This is absolutely the worst thing you can do for your mental health.

We’ve learned this year that taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. We also learned that workplace burnout is a real thing and now has an official diagnosis in the latest version of the AmericanPsychological Association’sDSM-5. Lack of either form of health care can cause debilitating physical and mental symptoms that only get worse over time — if left untreated. Work stressors are a leading factor in contributing to the negative effects of mental health symptoms for today’s employees. Some studies have even shown that people experience more medical episodes like panic attacks and heart attacks on Sunday evenings and Monday mornings at the beginning of the workweek.

Mental Health Care Is Becoming A Priority for Employers

Medical doctors, therapists, and mental health advocates are bringing mental health awareness to the forefront of medicine and making it a priority. According to Inc. magazine, top companies are taking notice and making better mental health care a priority. Big brands like Starbucks have spoken openly about making changes to improve their mental health care. There have even been legal standards created to assure that people who suffer from chronic mental health issues have access to the same mental health and medical health benefits via their health insurance providers. These regulations fall under the MentalHealth Parity Act.

The Effects of Workplace Stressors on Mental Health

We are just beginning to learn that the effects of traumatic experiences in our lives can contribute to the development of complicated mental health issues like complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD). It may surprise you to learn that exposure to traumatic experiences isn’t limited to our personal and private lives. Traumatic experiences can also happen in the workplace. When issues that affect employees’ welfare or mental health state are left unaddressed, complex mental health issues can develop as a result. The following are examples of workplace issues that can contribute to the development of chronic mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and workplaceburnout.

Workplace conditions that can contribute to mental health decline or burnout:

Underemployment / Low Pay

Working a full-time or part-time career and still being unable to cover living expenses (paycheck-to-paycheck) can take its toll on your psyche. 

No Advancement Opportunities 

People in positions where advancement is thwarted often experience negative mental health effects. Examples where this is common are “glass ceilings”, nepotism, sexism, and racism.

Overworking 

Contrary to popular belief working long hours with lack of breaks, sleep, or eating is not a recipe for success — It’s a recipe for burnout.

Sexual Harassment 

People who experience sexual harassment by a coworker, supervisor, manager, or company owner will probably experience high levels of anxiety. 

Devalued Employees / Contractors

Employees often feel devalued when they have little or no access to proper equipment or training to complete their jobs.

 


The bottom line is — your mental health care is critically important to your overall well-being. (This is true both inside and outside the workplace.) When you’re preparing to set next year’s resolutions, be sure to put your mental health care at the top of your list. If you want to learn more about how mental health care is affecting people in the workplace (and where to get help) — subscribe to our newsletter to receive updates on our upcoming Mental Health in The Workplace series beginning in January 2020.

Wishing you the happiest of holidays and good mental health!

~ msloydwrites


Mental Health Parity Act (For Employers and Employees)

Online Therapy Options for Rural, Remote, and Telecommuting Employees

Learn How to Create A Work Environment That Promotes Good Mental Health

Medical Health vs. Mental Health Care — Which is More Important?


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