California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today urged California’s four largest health insurance providers: Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, Health Net of California, and Kaiser Permanente, to demonstrate their compliance with state and federal mental health parity laws. In letters addressed to each of the managed care insurance companies, the Attorney General requested information that would help determine if they are providing coverage for mental health benefits and services without putting limitations or conditions on the coverage that are more restrictive than permitted by the law. Equal treatment for mental health conditions in insurance plans is mandated by state and federal laws, including the California Mental Health Parity Act, the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The plans have until November 16, 2020, to voluntarily comply with the information request.
“One out of every six Californians experiences some type of mental illness, which is why it is important to ensure our mental health laws are being followed,” said Attorney General Becerra. “It is the job, mandated by the law, of health insurance providers to make access to care for mental health conditions as accessible as care for a medical illness. Now, when people are seeing their mental health worsen as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, is a critical time to ensure those who need it have access to care.”
Despite multiple laws, including the California Mental Health Parity Act and the ACA, which expanded access to mental health treatment across the country, many Californians still struggle to find appropriate mental health treatment. Many Californians with insurance are also exponentially more likely to go out of network for mental health treatment than for medical services. According to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation/California Health Care Foundation, two-thirds of the individuals surveyed reported that they or one of their family members sought but were unable to locate mental health services.
In order to investigate mental healthcare coverage, the Attorney General requested documents and information that would ensure Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, Health Net of California, and Kaiser Permanente are following mental health parity laws.
A copy of the letter to Anthem Blue Cross is available here. A copy of the letter to Blue Shield of California is available here. A copy of the letter to Health Net of California is available here. A copy of the letter to Kaiser Permanente is available here.