Unpacking Insurance Coverage For Mental Health Disorders

In Australia, one in five people experience a mental illness, but insurance coverage is still lacking when it comes to treating mental health symptoms.

In New Zealand, coverage for mental health is similarly limited. The New Zealand Mental Health Organisation found that 21% of respondents  with mental health issues experienced discrimination when trying to obtain insurance. Naturally, it is very frustrating for people in Australia and New Zealand to struggle to find adequate solutions for mental health treatment. However, it is important to stay aware of the various options available to you as a patient that can help offset the costs of obtaining treatment.

Combining Your Insurance Options 

Most Australians use a combination of Medicare, private insurance, out-of-pocket expenses, and free or low-cost mental health resources to obtain treatment. Typically, if GP determines you need a mental health care plan, that entitles Medicare patients to rebates for 10 medical sessions per year.  However, 10 sessions normally isn’t sufficient for patients to obtain adequate treatment for their mental health systems. Thus, many take out a supplement insurance policy through a private insurance corporation. To offset the cost of treatment, QANTAS health insurance recommends looking for a policy specifically tailored to cover mental health disorders. You can also see what options are provided through employee benefits plans, depending on your employer.

Low-Cost Solutions

Depending on your region, many non-profits and governmental organisations offer additional resources for combating the high prevalence of mental health issues in Australia and New Zealand. Many of these resources are geared towards specific mental health conditions, including trauma and addiction. But there may also be active local charities in your area willing to provide you with resources. Additionally, many mental health professionals offer their services on a sliding scale: meaning that patients that demonstrate no or limited income can obtain more affordable treatment. Always ask about sliding scale options if you are struggling to pay for mental health services.

Fighting For More Resources

Across Australia and New Zealand, mental health advocates are raising awareness about the discrepancy in insurance coverage for mental health issues. In New Zealand, recent reports revealed that the District Health Boards (DHBs) cut mental health funding by $55m, sparking concern and advocacy from mental health charities across the country. In Australia, members of parliament are moving to create a policy-making body called the Australian Health Reform Commission. The Commission, if approved, would address challenges such as chronic disease, cost barriers, long hospital waiting times and workforce shortages. The move to create new funding and policy initiatives for mental health signals a growing awareness over the lack of adequate coverage in many parts of Australia.

The fight to obtain adequate coverage for mental health treatment is on-going, but patients should be aware of their options as they seek individual treatment. In fact, staying informed of major policy changes in Australia and New Zealand can help make patients aware of their options moving forward as they seek new methods of obtaining treatment.