YOU ASK:

Will the health care reform provide me with coverage to see a psychiatrist or a therapist?

WE ANSWER:

The basic package provided under the new health care reform bill will make provisions for mental health coverage, which includes access to therapists or psychiatrists.  The mental health coverage portion to be provided will include services and drugs meant for behavioral and mental health. Of course, this will be offered in different levels based on the benefit package you opt for and are willing to pay for.

If you opt for a lower level of benefits, you will have lower premiums but will most likely face deductibles and co-payments. If you choose a higher level of benefits, you will get to see your therapist or psychiatrist without cost sharing.

The health reform bill will also ensure that health insurance providers to make a more comprehensive offering including mental health services. These changes include:

  • Higher fees for mental health providers. In the past, such providers are paid less per consultation, as compared to consultations with the general practitioner or specialist. The bill will require insurance companies to equally treat GPs and psychiatrists.
  • No maximum limits and higher co-payments. Also, there may be higher co-payments or annual and lifetime limits when you avail of mental health services. The bill will put an end to these.
  • Insurance companies can't deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. With this, you can enjoy continued access to your plan's physicians, including psychiatrists.
  • Increased access to prescription drugs. Medications will become more affordable to those who are on Medicare and are on the donut hole. This includes anti-psychotics and anti-depressants.
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