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NAMI Has 'Got You Covered!'

By Jessica Hart, NAMI Policy and Legal Affairs Assistant, and Sita Diehl, Director of State Policy and Advocacy

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month and NAMI is celebrating by launching a brand new health insurance coverage campaign and website: Got You Covered!

Today it takes an average of eight to 10 years after symptoms of mental illness emerge to get an accurate diagnosis, much less treatment. Health insurance is costly, hard to get, hard to keep and often does not cover needed care.

The future looks brighter because new health insurance options are coming this fall to help over 11 million uninsured Americans with mental health conditions get the care they need. The new insurance comes as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), passed by Congress and signed into law by the president in 2010. The purpose of the ACA is to make sure that all Americans have access to affordable health insurance.

Now that the ACA is law, Americans can expect the health care landscape to change. Beginning in 2014, most people will be required to have health insurance either through their employer, through a government-funded program such as Medicaid or Medicare, or through a plan they purchase in the new health insurance marketplace. People who like the insurance they have now can keep it, but those who are uninsured or under insured will be able to choose health plans to meet their medical needs and their budget.

What do these changes mean for adults, children and families affected by mental illness? For starters, more uninsured Americans will have access to care and new health plans will be required to cover mental health treatment at parity with other types of medical care.

NAMI’s new Got You Covered website will feature a wealth of information to help you navigate the system. On the site, you will find:

  • Answers to frequently asked questions, such as:
    • With implementation of the health reform law, what options will be available to me for new, additional or expanded mental health care in insurance?
    • What does Medicaid expansion mean to me in my state?
    • What health insurance benefits must plans provide as part of the health reform law?
  • Fact sheets about the new health law and how its implementation affects people with mental illness and their families.
  • The Mental Health Parity Tool Kit, which was developed to assist people with mental illness and their families when it comes to mental health parity. For people who think their rights have been violated the toolkit shows how to respond.
  • The Policy Makers Tool Kit, which includes fact sheets that can be used by mental health advocates to educate legislators and other decision-makers on why strengthening mental health care is critical to the health of our nation.

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