Majority of Americans Support Mental Healthcare Coverage

The state of the U.S. mental healthcare system is currently making big headlines, and a large majority of Americans believe mental health and addictive disorders should be covered under insurance plans like any other illness.

Ninety-three percent of Americans believe that treatment for mental health and addictive disorders should be covered under any basic, private healthcare plan.

That’s according to a new survey commissioned by the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems (NAPHS), which also found that 57 percent of respondents strongly agreed with covering such disorders.

Eighty-one percent of people also support scope-of-service parity—requiring health insurance plans to provide all levels of care and service for mental health and addiction, as they would for physical health.

Respondents cited various reasons for supporting healthcare coverage of these types of disorders, including that it is the right thing to do. They also said mental health problems are just like any other illness and should be treated similarly; mental and physical health directly affect each other; and treating mental health issues will save money in the long run.

The results of the national survey, which polled 700 U.S. adults between September 26 and October 1, come at a time of heightened interest in the U.S. mental healthcare system, after the recent shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. News  stories on the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre have included reports that 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza may have had a form of autism or a personality or anxiety disorder.

Kaiser Health News reported that in any given year more than a quarter of adults in the U.S. have a diagnosable mental health problem, but fewer than half will receive treatment.

Several associations, including NAPHS, spoke out on the importance of mental health treatment both to prevent events such as the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary and to help people with recovery after trauma.

“As an association representing treatment providers and professionals, the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems is committed to helping Americans better understand the role and support that the behavioral health community can provide—both to support those who have suffered a trauma and to provide early intervention and treatment for those experiencing mental or addictive disorders,” the organization said in a statement.

Lawmakers are also taking note of the importance of mental health services. Under the Affordable Care Act, mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment, are among the core essential health benefits that individual and small-group health plans will be required to cover.

Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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