October 4, 2021

Ohioans urged to get mental health help during pandemic. But what if insurance doesn’t cover it?

Kaitlin Schroeder, Journal News
“The better the behavioral health workforce situation is, the more access to care for behavioral health there will be — and we all have an interest in supporting that”
Kelly O’Reilly, CEO of the Ohio Association of Health Plans

Ohioans have been urged throughout the pandemic not to be afraid to seek mental health care, but getting over the stigma is just one barrier. Many struggle to understand their insurance and to find an available and affordable provider.

A 2006 state law and 2008 federal law together generally require that health insurers cover mental health benefits as thoroughly as physical health benefits — a requirement often called parity.

But studies have indicated parity laws have fallen short on improving mental health care access. The complex issue can be difficult to enforce and to raise awareness about. That can translate to some people finding it hard to get and pay for care.

Kelly O’Reilly, CEO of the Ohio Association of Health Plans, said health plans actively seek to contract with behavioral health providers to provide access, as well as to meet network adequacy requirements. She said they talk regularly with providers about ways to improve workforce challenges.

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