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Providing More Access To Mental And Behavioral Health Care

by Alicia Caramenico

February 27, 2018

Only one-third of people diagnosed with depression begin treatment, according to a Kaiser Permanente study published this month in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

With more than 16 million adults experiencing a major depressive episode each year, it’s important that people understand their treatment options. Today, with smartphone in hand, telehealth and mobile health tools can connect people to the mental and behavioral health care they need.

Health insurance providers have embraced telemedicine for mental health for several reasons:

  • It makes it easier to access care
  • It makes it easier to afford care
  • It improves overall health

Better Access to Care

Individuals in New York and Vermont who have MVP Health Care coverage no longer need to worry about problems with transportation and travel distance to the doctor’s office or choose from a limited number of in-person appointments. They can now have a virtual visit with a psychiatrist online and receive assessments and treatment recommendations via telehealth.

Similarly, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has expanded access and the availability of mental health services with remote counseling. Patients can make virtual appointments for 30-, 45-, and 60-minute sessions.

More Affordable Care

Virtual visits are a lower cost, convenient alternative to the emergency room. Health insurance providers across the country, like HCSC and Oscar Health, offer affordable mental health benefits.

For Oscar members in New York, these affordable benefits include talk therapy, group counseling, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, yoga and meditation classes, mental health workshops, and prescription drug coverage. And HCSC members have on-demand access to board-certified doctors and behavioral health therapists via phone, online video, or mobile app 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Better Overall Health

Mental health plays a key role in maintaining good physical health. And with the help of technology, patients can conveniently connect with mental or behavioral health specialists via secure video or messaging. “We know behavioral health care can improve an individual’s overall health and quality of life and reduce the need for emergency room visits, urgent care visits or hospital admissions,” Dr. Judith Feld, MVP’s vice president of behavioral health, said in a statement.

If individuals, family members or friends struggle with mental health or substance abuse issues, health insurance providers offer valuable support.