Mental Health Services Wane as Insurers Appear to Skirt Parity Rules During Pandemic
By Editor - Fri Apr 30, 7:56 am
Therapists and other behavioral health care providers cut hours, reduced staffs and turned away patients during the pandemic as more Americans experienced depression symptoms and drug overdoses, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. Use Our Content It can be republished for free. The report on patient access to behavioral health care during the covid-19 crisis also casts doubt on whether insurers are abiding by federal law requiring parity in insurance coverage, which forbids health plans from passing along more of the bill for mental health care to patients than they would for medical or surgical care. The GAO’s findings are “the tip of the iceberg” in how Americans with mental, emotional and substance use disorders are treated differently than those with physical conditions, said JoAnn Volk, a research professor at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms who studies mental health coverage. The GAO report, shared before publication exclusively with KHN, paints a picture of an already strained behavioral health system struggling after the pandemic struck to meet the treatment needs of millions of Americans with conditions like alcohol use disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
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