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00000174-c556-d691-a376-cdd69f3e0001Nearly a fifth of the people in the U.S. have a mental health condition. That’s over 43 million Americans and more than half lack access to care. In Ohio as with the rest of the country, the stats show mental health issues have been increasing over the last several years, and the state is either in line with or worse than the national average when it comes to those increasing rates. This series looks at the challenges that stand in the path to finding the support needed to find better mental health.

Ohio Bill Would Require Insurers To Follow Federal Law On Mental Health Care

photo of a doctor and patient
Insurers are finding new ways around the federal law on covering mental and physical health equally..

Federal law mandates insurers treat mental health services like they would physical health care. But the sponsors of a new bill in the Ohio Legislature say that’s not happening. 

Rep. Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) said insurance companies are finding ways to get around the federal law that mandates they cover mental and behavioral health and physical health equally.

“We’ve got a large number of individuals who are being forced to go out of network instead of in network for behavioral health services or they are paying a lot more out of pocket.”

Russo said Ohio and other states that lack a statewide law find insurance companies are able to evade the federal law more easily. The bill would require insurers follow the federal law and has bipartisan support. And earlier this year, Gov. Mike DeWine cited mental and behavioral health parity as a key part of tackling Ohio’s opioid crisis.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment. Jo started her career in Louisville, Kentucky in the mid 80’s when she helped produce a televised presidential debate for ABC News, worked for a creative services company and served as a general assignment report for a commercial radio station. In 1989, she returned back to her native Ohio to work at the WOSU Stations in Columbus where she began a long resume in public radio.