Want to hear something heartbreaking? Fifty-six of percent of American adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment. The cause of this disconnect can be boiled down to two things: stigma and the high cost of care. However, for those who canít afford mental health treatment, there are multiple options available to help cover some of the cost.
Insurance coverage for mental health treatment and drug rehabilitation has seen a lot of improvement in recent years. The Mental Health and Addiction Parity Act of 2008 requires insurance providers to cover mental health and physical health needs equally. For example, if the copay to see your doctor is $25, then the copay to see a therapist should also be $25.
Because of the parity law, health insurance purchased under the Affordable Care Act, and most employer-provided insurance plans, are required by law to cover mental health care. However, exactly what services are covered can vary. To check your mental health coverage, review your explanation of benefits or contact your insurance provider directly.
Medicaid is public health insurance that covers the healthcare costs of eligible, low income citizens. Each state has its own rules and regulations for Medicaid (although there are some federal requirements.) Mental health services covered by Medicaid can include psychiatric rehabilitation, case management, and peer support services ó however, these services can vary state to state. You may also have a co-payment for some medical and mental health services, depending on your stateís guidelines.
Medicare is federal health insurance for people aged 65 or older. Original Medicare (Part A or Part B) covers 80 percent of the approved amount for outpatient mental health services. The patient is responsible for the remaining 20 percent. Medicare Advantage Plans (Part C) cover the full cost of the same services as Original Medicare, but require visits to in-network health care providers. Medicare prescription drug plans cover the cost of nearly all antidepressant, antipsychotic, and anticonvulsant prescription drugs used to treat mental health disorders.
Out of Pocket
Mental health care might seem unobtainable for those who donít have insurance and arenít eligible for Medicaid or Medicare. However, there is still hope. The following options may be available in your area:
Many colleges and universities provide free, on-campus counseling services for students. For non students, low-cost therapy may be available through the psychology, psychiatry, or behavioral health department. You can call your local college for information on sessions with graduate students.
Some therapists and clinics offer their services on a sliding scale ó this means what youíre charged is based on your income. Ask about this option when calling for a consultation.
Federally funded health centers also allow patients to pay based on their income. The Health Resources and Service Administrationís website has a handy tool that can help you find a federally funded health center in your area.
Many people with mental health disorders require cost prohibitive medication to help reduce or control their symptoms. Fortunately, prescription medication can be made more affordable in a number of ways.
Generic drugs are often far cheaper than brand-name medications. Ask your doctor to write your prescriptions for generics whenever possible. If there isnít a generic version available, your doctor may have samples they can give you.
Some pharmaceutical companies offer assistance programs to provide prescribed medication at little to no cost.
NeedyMeds is a national nonprofit that not only locates assistance programs to help people cover the cost of medications, they also offer a discount card that can save patients up to 80 percent.
If youíre struggling financially, there are ways you can get therapy and medication for little to no cost. It may involve a few phone calls and a lot of Googling, but itís well worth it in the end. You deserve access to the help you need, and itís out there. All you have to do is ask.
Thanks for a useful article. Although I do not live in America, I found this an interesting article which I think will help people living in America. Perhaps people in other countries who are on a limited budget might be able to get some support from the psychology or psychiatry department of a local college or university. It would be worth a phone call. . Everyone deserves to be able to access mental health treatment.