Mental Health Insurance Coverage

by Lilian Cronin
First published by The Milton Times, June 2019

Many teens are reporting feeling overwhelmed and depressed, as reported by the American Psychological Association ( APA ). According to their 2019 report outlined by STAT News, mental health care accounts for a significantly growing number of private health insurance claims. The report found that claims, especially for anxiety and depression, are on the rise. Young people accounted for a disproportionately high number of these mental health claims.

Behavioral healthcare insurance claims, which include mental health and substance use disorder treatment, were studied. Mental health claims, including for cannabis use by young people, have risen substantially: from 15% of all claims in 2007 to 23% by 2017. This may be attributed to several factors, including increased awareness about mental health issues, as well as options for treatment. Also, clinicians report that the stigma around mental health issues appears to be declining.

Coverage changes have also had an impact on access to behavioral health treatment. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which was passed in 2008, requires many insurances to cover mental health as well as addiction, the same as any other medical condition. Also, the Affordable Care Act allows young people to remain on their parents’ insurance through age 26.

In Massachusetts, The Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative is currently a gold standard in the provision of community based intensive mental health and substance use treatment services for children under the age of 21, including covering home-based therapy and family support services. However, it is currently only available to those who are enrolled in MassHealth. Three local community service agencies are charged with providing these services to Milton residents with MassHealth. They are: Aspire Health Alliance and Bay State Community Services. Children’s Services of Roxbury specializes in serving the African American MassHealth population in Greater Boston.

The good news is that many of these services will also be offered to children covered by private commercial insurance, starting next year. This will open new treatment options for many more children and their families, but the details have yet to be ironed out.

If you or your family needs help negotiating the mental health system, there is a free service to Milton residents called the Interface Referral Service. Call them for help at 888-244-6843. For more resources, go to the Milton Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition website, under the “Get Help” tab.