July 27, 2017  Last Update: December 21, 2016, 11:10 pm

Mental Health Docs say NO to New Insurance Rules

affordable care act and psychiatrists

Fewer psychiatrists accept insurance this year than last year, following an alarming trend that diminishes access to mental health treatment even as the Affordable Care Act attempts to achieve parity in coverage.

One of five adult Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental illness in a given year, according to the National Institutes for Mental Health (NIMH). Historically, many health care insurance plans did not cover mental illness. Many others treated mental illness separately from physical illness, with a different set of rules for coverage and reimbursement.

The ObamaCare “Affordable Care Act”  allegedly forces insurers to provide coverage for mental illness the same way they provide coverage for physical illness. Just as insurers can no longer deny you coverage for “previously existing conditions”, they can no longer deny you coverage for mental illeness if they cover care for physical illness. At least that’s the idea. People in need of mental health treatment should be able to get access to care, just as they can get access to care for physical ailments.

But what if doctors refuse to agree to the terms of the insurance plans? The “parity laws” only apply to insurers. There is no law that says doctors have to accept insurance, and if they don’t accept the insurance, they don’t have to follow the insurance requirements.

USA Today is reporting a significant decline in the percentage of psychiatrists who will accept insurance – just 58% of mental health doctors surveyed will accept insurance for mental health treatment. For regular doctors not treating mental illness, the rate is 89%.  Are the new rules too restrictive or too costly for the psychiatrists, so they opt out and require cash payments? Or are other factors at work, continuing to inhibit access to mental health treatment?

Forget about for parity laws : Less than 58% of psychiatrists now accept insurance for mental health treatment
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The data show a similar trend in the percentage of doctors accepting Medicaid… over time, those in need are findng fewer resources available to them, for both affordable care and mental health treatment.

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