Nov 21, 2019 - Health

Mental health coverage is getting worse

Data: Mental Health Treatment and Research Institute; Chart: Axios Visuals

As suicide and overdose rates have increased, mental health and substance abuse insurance coverage has gotten worse, according to a new Milliman report commissioned by the Mental Health Treatment and Research Institute.

Why it matters: Behavioral health treatment often isn't covered by insurance, and it's often unaffordable — including for patients for whom treatment is a matter of life and death.

By the numbers: Coverage of substance abuse treatment was especially bad compared to physical health treatment.

  • The numbers for residential treatment facilities are particularly rough; in 2017, more than 50% of care in these facilities was out of network.

Behavioral health providers are also paid less than physical health providers.

  • Behavioral health providers are paid, on average, less than the Medicare rate, while primary care doctors and physical health specialists make more than the Medicare rate.
  • These low rates can discourage providers from joining insurance networks.

My thought bubble: If we're going to make a serious attempt to tackle suicide and overdose rates, enforcing the requirement that mental health care be covered the same way physical health care is would be a good place to start.

Go deeper: Why we're failing to stop teen suicide

Go deeper

The U.S. suicide rate is exceptionally high among wealthy nations

Reproduced from The Commonwealth Fund; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. has the highest suicide rate among wealthy nations, according to a Commonwealth Fund report.

Between the lines: That's potentially because of our high rates of mental illness, inadequate mental health screening, low investments in social services and the cost of mental health care, the researchers said.

Go deeper: Mental health coverage is getting worse

If you have any thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please pick up the phone right now and call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

Keep ReadingArrowJan 30, 2020

Some schools give mental health days as young Americans' suicide rate rises

Photo: Adam Augustus Crowley/Getty Images

States and school districts around the country are passing legislation to allow students to take mental health days as young people struggle with depression and anxiety, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: The changes come as the suicide rate among young people continues to rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported suicide was the second leading cause of death among people ages 10-24 in 2017.

WHO warns of 13 emerging health threats including possible pandemics

Photo: Probst/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Government leaders need to implement a "decade of change" and invest more in the key health priorities and systems to prevent global health threats over the next decade, the World Health Organization warned last week.

What's new: Climate change, infectious diseases and epidemic threats, socioeconomic inequalities, and conflicts are some of the 13 urgent challenges WHO says will imperil global health — but addressing them is "within reach" if action is taken now.

Go deeperArrowJan 20, 2020