WASHINGTON, D.C. – (August 4, 2022) – Every American deserves access to mental health support that is effective and affordable. A new survey released today by AHIP highlights how health insurance providers are improving access to mental health care by bringing more high-quality providers into their networks, training and supporting primary care physicians (PCP) to care for patients with mild to moderate behavioral health conditions, and helping patients find available behavioral health appointments.
“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Americans struggled with mental health and substance use challenges,” said Kate Berry, Senior Vice President of Clinical Affairs and Strategic Partnerships at AHIP. “The mismatch between the supply of mental health and substance use disorder providers and the demand for care is a longstanding problem. That’s why health insurance providers are working hard to improve their provider networks and increase access to care.”
When health care providers participate in health plan networks, care is more affordable, and providers are more accountable for quality. By offering plans with a wide array of mental health professionals in network, effective mental health support is more accessible and affordable. And by integrating mental health care with primary care, health insurance providers are partnering with physicians and mental health professionals to meet patients where they are and offer care that is more continuous, holistic, and effective.
Key findings from the survey include:
- All respondents (100%) provide coverage for tele-behavioral health services.
- The number of in-network behavioral health providers has grown by an average of 48% in 3 years among commercial health plans.
- The overwhelming majority of health plans (89%) are actively recruiting mental health care providers, including practitioners who reflect the diversity of the people they serve (83%), and 78% have increased payments to providers in efforts to recruit more high-quality professionals to their plan networks.
- The number of providers eligible to prescribe Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT) for substance use disorder, including opioid dependence, has more than doubled – growing 114% over 3 years.
- A strong majority (72%) of plans are training and supporting PCPs to care for patients with mild/moderate behavioral health conditions.
- A large majority (83%) of plans report they assist enrollees with finding available mental and behavioral health appointments.
- A large majority (78%) use specialized case managers for follow-up after emergency room and inpatient care and/or starting new medications.
- More than half of Americans, nearly 180 million, have employer-provided coverage for their health care needs — which offers an essential path to accessing much-needed mental health support.
“Health insurance providers are taking steps to improve mental health care by proactively identifying behavioral health needs of their members, collaborating with providers, and reducing stigma,” Berry continued. “While a lot of work has been done, health insurance providers recognize the need to address systemic challenges. This can only be accomplished by all health care stakeholders working collaboratively to ensure Americans have affordable access to the high-quality mental health support they deserve.”
AHIP fielded the survey on mental health coverage in the commercial market in May-June 2022. The survey was fielded to all AHIP member health plans with enrollments in group (self-insured and fully insured) and individual (on and off exchange) markets. The survey received responses from plans representing 95 million commercial enrollees.
Click here to view the survey.
Click here for more AHIP resources on mental health.
Click here to view the innovative actions health insurance provider are taking in response to demands for mental health care.
Click here to view an issue brief: Integrating Behavioral Health and Primary Care.
AHIP is the national association whose members provide health care coverage, services, and solutions to hundreds of millions of Americans every day. We are committed to market-based solutions and public-private partnerships that make health care better and coverage more affordable and accessible for everyone. Visit www.ahip.org to learn how working together, we are Guiding Greater Health.