February 21, 2024

AHIP, the lobby for the health insurance industry, committed Tuesday tofurther improve access to mental health care and substance use disorder treatment for every American.”

AHIP, which stands for America’s Health Insurance Plans, issued a statement and “advocacy vision” at a time its member health plans are looking beyond paying and coordinating just medical care but also integrating behavioral health care into benefit plans for their government, commercial and employer clients.

“The COVID-19 pandemic made very clear that mental health is everyone’s issue, whether people are struggling with anxiety or depression, have been diagnosed with a complex mental health condition, or are working to overcome substance use disorder,” AHIP president Matt Eyles said . “With these commitments and roadmap, health insurance providers will advocate for solutions that are working to expand access, promote quality and value, promote parity, advance equity, and improve the experience for patients and their families.”

The effort also comes at a time the Biden administration integrate mental healthcare”>is working on various measures to improve and integrate mental healthcare into government subsidized health insurance. Meanwhile, health insurers are rolling out more products that include mental health benefits and substance use disorder treatments that traditionally weren’t a part of medical plans they have long sold.

AHIP, which includes the giant health insurer Elevance Health, formerly Anthem; CVS Health, the parent of Aetna; Cigna; Humans; Centene and scores of Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans as member companies, also wants to assure doctors and other medical care providers of their commitments when they are often skeptical of health insurer business practices.

AHIP said its board of directors approved a statement of commitment that includes the following priorities designed to:

· “help patients navigate in a timely manner to the right setting and practitioners based on their needs for mental health or substance use disorder support.

· integrate mental health/substance use disorder support with physical health and primary care visits.

· create innovative programs to expand system capacity and increase the number of mental health care practitioners available.

· expand access to mental health care through telehealth, virtual visits, and other innovative uses of technologies that connect people to the mental health support they need.

· continue to ensure that mental health/substance use disorder treatment is covered – on par with physical health treatment in compliance with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act

· advocate for the importance of addressing issues of equity and the impact of the social drivers of health.

· improve quality and move toward value.

· promote access to evidence-based SUD/opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment.”

Further details of the policy proposals and commitments can be found here.

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