Biden proposes rules to expand mental health coverage

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On Tuesday, President Joe Biden’s administration announced new rules intended to push insurance companies to increase their coverage of mental health treatments.

The new regulations, which still need a public comment period, require insurers to examine whether their customers have equal access to medical and mental health benefits and to take remedial action, if necessary. The Mental Health and Addiction Equity Act requires that insurance companies provide the same level of coverage for both mental and physical health care — although the administration and advocates argue that insurance companies’ policies restrict patient access.

The rules, if finalized, would force insurers to study patient outcomes to ensure benefits are administered equally, taking into account provider network, reimbursement rates and whether pre-authorization is required for care.

The Democratic president’s administration says it aims to address issues such as enabling insurance companies to provide dietary advice to people with diabetes but is making it more difficult for those with eating disorders.

The White House says that by measuring the results, it will force insurers to make adjustments to comply with the law.

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