Bill Would Expand Mental Health Insurance Coverage

By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. May 6, 2013

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A New Jersey Assembly committee has advanced legislation that would expand mental health insurance coverage.

Assembly Health Committee chairman Herb Conaway says the bill would require the State Health Benefits Plan and the School Employees Health Program to provide the same level of coverage for mental illnesses as physical ailments.

“We hope that by making sure that there’s a level playing field between physical health and mental health that people will actually get the access to care that they so desperately need. We will all be better off for having people more healthy, living, working among us.”

Private plans already have that parity.

Dudley Burdge with the Communications Workers of America says the public employee plans covering about 800,000 people now limit payments for certain disorders.

“You’re talking about cops, teachers, that could use those services particularly in post traumatic stress, and with eating disorders we’re essentially talking about what is the most deadly mental health affliction, and this would end the visit limitations for those.”

The measure would also prevent insurers from applying different co-payments, deductibles or benefit limits for alcoholism and substance abuse treatment.

The bill is awaiting action by the full Assembly. The Senate passed it March.



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