Emotional Support in a Practical Package

In a sign of progress in societal acceptance of the issue, the need to provide mental health services has become a topic more openly discussed and addressed.  Mental health is just as important as physical health – some say even more so – yet access to counselors and therapists remains an issue.

A Congressional committee learned that 55% of all U.S. counties have no practicing psychiatrists, psychologists, or social workers.  Yet the need remains high nationwide:

  • About 1 in 5 adults experience a mental illness in a given year.
  • About 1 in 5 teenagers experience a severe mental disorder in their lives.
  • Serious mental illness costs the U.S. nearly $200 billion in lost annual earnings.

A growing trend to address these issues comes with the idea of Telemental health, providing live online counseling through video conferencing.  This option can quickly, easily, and inexpensively provide needed mental health services to those in rural areas or those unable or unwilling because of social stigma to travel to a hospital or counseling center.

Results of the practice of Telemental health show many positives, including:

  • A significant reduction in psychiatric hospitalization rates.
  • Low-income and homebound seniors have experienced longer-lasting effects than those receiving in-person treatment.
  • Because mental health providers rarely need to perform any physical services on patients, the Telemental option is much more practical.
  • There is little-to-no difference in patient satisfaction between Telemental counseling and face-to-face treatment.

Shortcomings include: not all insurance plans cover Telemental health sessions; some non-verbal cues may be more difficult for a counselor to detect when working online with a patient; and not all patients can access or operate the online technology needed.

Telemental health services are sure to expand, which could serve to diminish or alleviate these issues.  It represents a workable system to provide needed mental health support to more patients in more locations.  Talk with the Benefits professionals at Evergreen about this topic and more regarding providing benefits for your employees.

Copyright 2024 Evergreen Insurance, LLC.

Evergreen Insurance, LLC. provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Offering Coverage for Employee Mental Health

Among the many lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the impact on mental health. Months of isolation, coupled with anxiety about job security and physical health, followed by the economic stress from inflation and supply chain issues, have helped to fuel lingering mental health challenges for millions – including your employees.

In fact, while more than one in five Americans have diagnosable mental disorders at some point in their lives, only about half of them receive professional mental health treatment. One main reason – seeking access to such treatment – can be attributed to whether the person’s employer offers mental health benefits.

Under the Affordable Care Act, non-grandfathered health plans in the iCndividual and small group markets are required to cover mental and behavioral health treatments as one of the 10 essential health benefits. That means most fully insured group health plans sponsored by small employers (typically those with up to 50 employees) must include coverage for mental health benefits. Also, health plans must comply with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Act of 2008, which prohibits group health plans (and health insurance issuers providing mental health and substance use disorder benefits) from imposing less favorable benefit limitations on those benefits than what they impose on surgical and medical care.

Beyond the legal and policy compliance considerations, however, providing adequate mental health benefits also makes economic sense. More employers have come to recognize that the cost of lost productivity due to employees suffering from mental health issues exceeds the cost of providing adequate mental health benefits coverage.

Options available to employers to help address these issues include:

  • Using Employee Assistance Programs to remove the stigma of mental health treatment and to help offset the cost of treatment, so that more employees seek help.
  • Making mental health screenings more widely and easily available to employees.
  • Offering employee education initiatives.
  • Enlisting the help of primary care physicians to bring mental health considerations into the overall picture of assessing employee health.

The U.S. Department of Labor has more information on mental health at www.dol.gov. You can also contact the Benefits team at Evergreen Insurance for more information and guidance on this important topic.

Copyright 2023 Evergreen Insurance

Evergreen Insurance provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice. To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.