mental health, mental health coverage, mental health insuranceHaving trouble accessing psychotherapy? NBC reported this week on some news that may explain why.

On January 1st some of the coding that providers use to bill for mental health treatment were changed. Unfortunately, many payers — including private health insurers and government programs like Medicaid — hadn’t changed their systems yet, so the systems are seeing the new codes as incorrect. This means many mental health professionals are getting their claims denied and not receiving payment.

Here’s what NBC is reporting:

“… systemwide delays and outright denials of payment could last for months, jeopardizing not just the nation’s 500,000 [mental health] providers, but also access to care for millions of mentally ill Americans …

How long the denials and delays may last is anyone’s guess. Medicare officials say they’ve begun reprocessing claims that were denied in the first weeks of the year. But for some Medicaid programs, the problem is so complex that they may not be able to get up to speed to process claims until June, experts tell NBC News …

Still, some providers may stop participating in insurance plans that delay too long, or cut fees, and others might be forced to close shop entirely, unable to go for weeks or months without income.”

Photo credit: © Stuart Miles –