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As Mental Health Comes out of the Shadows, So Should Insurance Coverage to Increase Access to Care

Anyone who has ever tried to navigate the crazy task of selecting an individual health insurance policy knows the fundamental problem is figuring out exactly what you’re buying. Then, traversing the dizzying maze of HMOs, doctors, hospitals, co-pays, deductibles, allowable procedures, and coverage eligibility only increases the frustration.

While exasperating for almost everyone who has chosen a health care plan, this lack of transparency, compounded by high costs, is especially irritating for three specific groups of individuals: those searching for affordable mental health care coverage; the growing number of “gig” workers, and younger individuals under 30 who typically forego purchasing health insurance. Each of these segments has their own challenges that have been exacerbated by COVID-19. But the good news is innovators in health insurance are helping the industry provide individuals with practical solutions at reasonable prices.

Our atypical and somewhat whimsical name, “Friday,” for a health insurance company elicits a lot of questions. Yet the answer is simple. We believe health insurance should not be complicated or expensive. Simple, consistent, and dependable plans should offer the peace of mind to live every day with that positive “Friday feeling.”

Of significance is the fact that coverage for mental health care has for too long been prohibitively expensive with limited access to practitioners. It’s time that changed. The pandemic has exacerbated mental health stresses. Yet the truth is, those struggles were there before COVID, and the health insurance industry has been slow to respond to provide affordable coverage.

That is compounded by the fact that the U.S. has been slow to recognize that just about everyone struggles with mental health issues at one time or another. Nevada is no exception. According to Mental Health America, Nevada ranks 49th out of 51 states in access to mental health care, and nearly 11 percent of adult Nevadans with mental illness are uninsured. In 2020, 63.9 percent of adult Nevadans with mental illness went untreated. And almost a quarter (22.3 percent) of all US adults with a mental illness reported that they were not able to receive the treatment they needed while 59 percent of youth with major depression do not receive any mental health treatment.

This lack of treatment is deplorable especially given the fact that the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and the Affordable Care Act required large group health plans and small group and individual plans to provide coverage for mental health care at levels comparable to medical services.

And that’s why Friday Health Plans is especially proud to offer health plans options with unlimited $0 mental health benefits. Mental health is as important as physical health, and we believe it’s high time insurance companies acknowledged that with plans that increase access to mental health care.

There’s no denying that change is slow in the health insurance industry. But things are changing. Fortunately, Nevada Health Link, as a state-based exchange, is one of the more progressive health insurance exchanges that is bringing in new carriers and plans to provide Nevadans with even more options while offering subsidies to help offset costs.

And one more tip. Not all health insurance plans are created equal. That’s why shopping for insurance on Nevada Health Link, which offers only plans that are compliant with the Affordable Care Act, ensures you are getting a quality plan.

Regardless of what health insurance plan you buy, just buy one, no matter your age or income. While not sexy, health insurance provides peace of mind, protects you from financial disaster if you fall ill or get injured, and increases your access to a higher quality of care. Everyone deserves to have all that.

Sal Gentile is CEO, Friday Health Plans, a new carrier on Nevada Health Link that believes that health insurance should not be complicated nor out of reach.

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