California Attorney General Xavier Becerra urged his state’s four largest health insurance providers to show they are complying with state and federal mental health parity laws Thursday.
In a letter to Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California, Health Net of California, and Kaiser Permanente, Becerra asked each managed care company to provide him with information that would determine if they are providing coverage for mental health benefits and services without putting limitation or conditions on the coverage that are more stringent than permitted.
Federal and state 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), all mandate equal treatment for insurance companies’ mental health conditions.
“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.”
Becerra’s office said that many Californians still struggle to find appropriate mental health treatment despite multiple laws expanding access to mental health treatment. 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 had tried to get mental health services but could not locate any.
The plans have until Nov. 16 to comply with Becerra’s information request voluntarily.