Patients Can Count On Addiction Treatment Coverage

by Dr. Richard Bankowitz

November 8, 2017

The author of the Washington Post opinion piece, “Insurers have to pay for addiction treatment,” (Nov. 8) says treatment for substance abuse should be covered by insurance. There’s good news: It is.

The mission of health insurance providers is to ensure patients have access to high quality, affordable care. They work to ensure that mental health treatment is covered at levels that are on par with physical health treatment. That includes covering comprehensive treatment programs for those suffering from addiction. This is a standard benefit, covering tens of millions of people every day.

Plans are even going above and beyond to screen for behavioral health concerns. They use innovative techniques to coordinate and integrate mental health with medical and physical health care.

But so many Americans need treatment, it’s exceeding what the medical system can support. We need more behavioral health experts. We need uniform accreditation standards to ensure patients are getting good care. And we need to continue to integrate mental health into patients’ overall health.

We have come a long way in mental health care. But we can do so much more if we work together with a focus on the patient.

Dr. Richard Bankowitz is chief medical officer of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP)