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Directing the Way to More Mental Health Care


Published Sep 14, 2023 • by AHIP

Asking for help is often the hardest step in a person’s journey to better mental health. Everyone deserves to get the care and support they need when they need it — without any extra hurdles along the way. It’s why health insurance providers take great measures to provide affordable access to care and to assist the people they serve in finding the right providers and treatment options

Finding Providers and In-Network Care

But how do you find options for therapy or treatment available where you live? Health insurance providers are increasingly offering direct assistance to consumers with scheduling appointments, including online and application-based search tools, direct integration with scheduling platforms, and cost-comparison tools that empower their members to easily find the right provider in the right location at the right cost.

And there’s positive news. A recent AHIP survey of health insurance providers offering commercial health insurance coverage found that there is meaningful access to a wide range of professionals who deliver mental health support within plan networks. This survey also showed that the number of in-network mental health providers has increased by 48% in three years among commercial health plans.

Health insurance providers are committed to making sure there is accurate, actionable information about options available to their enrollees. Here's how:

  • All plans. Health insurance providers typically have processes in place to provide patients access to out-of-network care if there is no available provider in network with the necessary training or experience to treat their condition. When this occurs, health plans would approve coverage at in-network rates if the care sought by a patient was not available in network.
  • Employer-provided coverage or marketplace plans. For patients or families with marketplace plans or coverage through employers, the No Surprises Act includes consumer protections to ensure accurate provider directories.
  • Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Advantage plans are required to maintain accurate provider directories and a sufficient network of providers for care options, including mental health support.

There’s more work to be done when it comes to guiding people to treatment options, especially in Washington. AHIP has voiced support of more federal solutions, such as a single, centralized provider directory that can make it easier to keep the information up to date and available to assist care-seeking Americans in every state. It will also be critical to adopt federal solutions that address the longstanding nationwide shortage of mental health care providers and boost the number of providers who participate in health plan networks.

In the face of these challenges, health insurance providers will continue to implement new programs and innovative strategies to increase access to mental health care for the people they serve. Learn more about health insurance provider efforts here.