November officially marks the beginning of open enrollment. For many of us, it’s time to renew our current benefits or choose a different healthcare plan that aligns with our individual goals.

If you’re living with a mental health condition, choosing the right insurance is an essential piece to your long-term health and wellness. Similar to major medical care, mental health care helps you achieve a healthier lifestyle; restore mental and physical balance; and build better relationships with those around you. Without access to these services, you risk other serious issues—such as anxiety or depression—which can impact your emotional and physical wellbeing.

Changes to Mental Health Care in the Last Decade:

Before the passing of the mental health parity law in 2008, mental health services did not receive the same level of importance as medical care. For example, if your plan covered unlimited doctor visits throughout the year or you were entitled to a fixed copay, these benefits did not extend to other healthcare services related to mental health, including behavioral therapy or substance-abuse treatment. Under the parity law, however, you receive equal coverage.

Additionally, the Affordable Care Act, passed in 2010, requires major medical health plans, provided through state or federal organizations, to cover mental health services that include behavioral therapy and access to other mental health services.

Tips for Choosing Plans with Mental Health Coverage:

Before choosing a healthcare plan that’s right for you, ask yourself three important questions:

  1. What is most important to me (i.e. affordable premiums, freedom to choose provider/network, low prescription copays, types of healthcare services covered, etc.)?
  2. Does the plan cover mental health services?
  3. How many doctor/therapy visits are included annually? Follow up question: Will this number allow me to achieve my wellness goals?

When researching insurance plans, be sure to read each policy’s summary, as this will help you determine which plan is right for you. Remember to call your current provider with questions or contact a new insurer to find out if (and to what degree) the new plan will cover mental health services.

What If I’m Enrolled in My Employer’s Health Care Plan:

If you’re already enrolled in your employer’s group healthcare plan, you’ll need to review the policy to ensure you’re covered for mental health care. In addition, the open enrollment period may differ for federal marketplaces or you may be automatically enrolled in the plan on a yearly basis, so you’ll want to read your enrollment directions carefully. Employer-provided healthcare plans are not affected by the Affordable Care Act, which means if your medical coverage is limited, that same amount of restricted coverage will apply to other mental health services (i.e. parity law). Ask your human resource representative for information on your plan’s benefits if you’re unsure about coverage.

Whether you’re experiencing problems in a relationship, or your depression is interfering with your career, family, or self-image, talking to a mental health professional may be the best step toward finding balance in the new year.

If you’d like to learn more about individual therapy or mental health assistance in Minnesota, visit the Calli Institute to explore a wide range of mental health services, including couples and family therapy, group therapy, individual therapy, and more. As a group of Mental Health professionals, we accept most major health plans, as well as Medicare. If you do not have insurance or you’re employer-provided plan does not cover mental health care, contact us to learn about our flexible payment options, so you can receive the treatment you deserve.

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