Health insurance reform ensures coverage for mentally ill

The American Psychological Association hailed the reform bill, says health insurance that provides equal coverage for mental health treatments is fairer

The U.S. Senate's healthcare reform bill, if signed into law, would provide new coverage levels for mentally ill people.

At present, reports the Palm Beach Post, mental health treatment costs are subject to arbitrary annual or lifetime limits. Under the Senate bill, mental health coverage must be provided at the same level as physical and surgical coverage, closing a gap that has existed for decades.

The American Psychological Association said last week that the bill "recognizes what APA has long contended - the mind and body are inextricably linked." The organization cited the "vital mental and behavioral health services" that psychologists provide.

In addition to equal coverage for mental care, the bill would fund comparative effectiveness research and extend Medicare reimbursement for psychotherapy.

A version of the Senate's proposed legislation actually takes effect on January 1, 2010. It only applies to group health insurance plans that cover more than 50 employees; the Senate bill would extend mental health provisions to all insurance policies.

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Posted: December 29, 2009

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