Mental illness coverage will be a considerable focus for the state’s law and its enforcement.
Mental health insurance has become a very hot topic, as seven different insurers have now reached settlements to pay consumers and the state for their failure to meet the legal coverage requirements in Massachusetts.
The most recent of these settlements has spawned a greater effort by the Attorney General to solve the issue.
Martha Coakley, the Attorney General, has taken inspiration from the health insurance settlements over mental illness coverage, and has now issued a letter to an insurer trade group, cautioning them that her office would be diligent in pursuing the issue. America’s Health Insurance Plans has been advised to inform its members regarding the state’s mental illness coverage laws.
Coakley specifically pointed out her worries regarding health insurance plans for veterans.
The reason is that those policyholders may have urgent mental health insurance needs that noncompliant companies may not be meeting. Her letter stated that “Failure to provide coverage of important mandated mental health benefits has a severe and detrimental impact on individuals who need those services, their families, and even their communities.”
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The Attorney General’s letter was issued at the same time that the courts and government in the state have been taking a closer look at whether or not health insurance companies are complying with the requirements of Massachusetts. These laws are designed to make sure that individuals suffering from mental illness will be able to obtain the care that they require. This is a trend that is occurring in other states, as well.
For example, Fletcher Allen Health Care is facing a lawsuit in Vermont, saying that the health insurance plan for the hospital’s employees is in violation of the state’s parity laws for mental and physical care coverage. Also, state psychiatry associations in Connecticut are saying that Anthem Health Plans have altered their billing codes to decrease the payments to doctors who provide treatment to patients with mental illness. A lawsuit was filed by the New York State Psychiatric Association against UnitedHealth Group for coverage issues regarding mental illness treatment.