I’ve got news for you. Yes, navigating the world of health insurance when you, or a family member, is physically sick can be difficult. We’ve all either had, or have heard story after story, of declined coverage, lack of options, costs of prescriptions, and on and on. The list of complaints are fairly endless.
Well, what if I told you that people seeking treatment for their mental health, have it significantly worse?
Tragically, nearly 35 percent of respondents with private insurance say that they can’t find any mental health therapist who would accept their insurance. In contrast, only 13 percent reported difficulty finding a medical specialist. And these findings are consistent across rural, suburban, and even urban populations, where there is a greater supply of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals.
With a lack of in-network mental health professionals, more than 1 in 4 survey respondents (28 percent) who receive psychotherapy were forced to use an out-of-network provider (if they could afford it) for treatment. Not surprisingly, out-of-pocket costs for mental health care were also significantly higher than those for physical care. Co-pays and other costs exceeding $200 were more than one and a half times greater for use of mental health therapists and psychiatric prescribers than when using medical specialty care.
At a time when there is so much focus on the difficulties facing people who get physically sick, and how that system may be broken, we should not forget those who need mental health care as well. The system is failing them at every level, people in emergency situations are not getting to the help they need, due to a lack of resources, a lack of coverage, and a system that is not designed to help. We need to do better for them.