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