Mental illness affects millions of people in the United States each year. Nearly one in five adults live with a mental illness. An estimated 49.5 percent of adolescents 13-18 have a mental disorder. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death nationally and the second leading cause of death among individuals ages 10 to 24.7
These bills require health insurers and health management organizations to provide written notice to covered individuals outlining the federal and state requirements for coverage of behavioral health care services.
Effect of Proposed Changes
The bills establish new communication duties for health insurers and HMOs, while creating reporting requirements for the Division of Financial Services. The bill requires health insurers and HMOs to provide:
- Written notice annually to covered individuals outlining the federal and state requirements for coverage of behavioral health care services. The notice must include:
- The statewide toll-free telephone number established by DFS’ Division of Consumer Services (DCS) for reporting complaints related to the availability, affordability, and adequacy of behavioral health care services.
- Post to their website the annual notice and information about behavioral health care benefits for individual and group policies and contracts.
- A report to the Governor and the Legislature by January 31, 2022, on the complaints received by the DCS regarding access to and affordability of behavioral health care services. The report must include:
- The total number of complaints received.
- The nature of the complaints; including but not limited to, concerns related to access to providers, facilities, and inpatient or outpatient services; affordability of services; equivalency of mental health benefits with respect to medical and surgical benefits; quality of care; and denial of services.
- At a minimum, the report must indicate the number of complaints received, the nature of such complaints, the disposition of the complaints, and any recommendations to the Legislature for improving the access to and affordability of behavioral health care services.
The bill also requires that DFS make available on its website information about behavioral health care benefits for individual and group policies, and contracts. The bill provides an effective date of October 1, 2021.
HB247/ SB660 Make Accessing Mental Health Services Easier
These bills edit the definition of telehealth in Florida to allow the use of the telephone for therapy. Telephone usage in telehealth has been allowed during the pandemic, the bills allow the use of phone service to be permanent.
Vote YES on SB1024 / HB701 and HB247/ SB660 to expand public access for mental health services and require wider communications to inform consumers.