According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately half of all people with addictions experience a mental health disorder at some point, and vice versa. Mental illness and addiction are so intertwined that it can be impossible to treat one without treating the other as well.
The Affordable Care Act not only requires health insurance companies to cover addiction treatment, the legislation also guarantees that people with mental health conditions get the same level of care as they would normally get for a physical ailment. This policy, which is known as parity, means that if a visit to a doctor for a cold costs a patient 20$, then visiting a doctor about depression must also cost $20. Parity laws apply to all kinds of health insurance plans, including employer-based health insurance plans, Medicaid and CHIP, and plans bought through health care exchanges.
One of the most common questions is whether or not a specific mental health disorder will be covered. Parity laws don’t specify exactly which types of mental health conditions plans must cover. As with drug addiction, however, it is simply not efficient for health insurance companies to make fine distinctions. Rather than specifying which conditions are covered and which are not covered, plan administrators generally provide blanket coverage. While it is generally best to discuss the specifics of your case with your plan administrator, any diagnosed mental health issue is almost guaranteed to be covered.
Health insurance companies also recognize that many people who need addiction treatment are dual diagnosis. The term dual diagnosis refers to clients who have been diagnosed with a substance use disorder as well as one or more additional mental health disorders. Covering treatment for comorbid conditions is in the best interests of the client, but it is also in the best interests of the insurance company. If a mental health disorder is left untreated, it can easily cause a client to relapse and return to substance abuse. This means they will need to return to treatment again — costing the health insurance company more money. For clients with comorbid conditions, health insurance companies strive to treat both conditions simultaneously.
Comprehensive treatment for comorbid mental health conditions is offered by many outpatient rehabs for addiction. It is known as integrated treatment. When outpatient rehabs offer integrated treatment, they provide dual diagnosis clients with evidence-based behavioral therapies to address both their addictions and their mental health conditions. In many cases, they also prescribe medications to alleviate the symptoms of one or more of these conditions as well.