Mental Health Benefits Financed by Employers

By Blostin, Allan P. | Monthly Labor Review, July 1987 | Go to article overview

Mental Health Benefits Financed by Employers


Blostin, Allan P., Monthly Labor Review


Mental health benefits financed by employers

Although most employer-financed health insurance plans cover mental disorders, benefits have traditionally been more restricted than for other illnesses. Coverage for mental disorders is usually for shorter periods and maximum dollar benefits are often lower. Also, plans commonly pay a smaller share of mental health care expenses.

These differences are more pronounced for outpatient mental health care. Coverage of mental health care in a hospital is the same as for other types of hospital care for four-tenths of the employees in medium and large private firms; outpatient mental health care is almost always subject to stricter limits than other illnesses.

Several reasons are commonly advanced for treating mental health care differently than other types of medical care. One reason is that mental disorders are not as easy to define as other illnesses.1 Also, mental health problems can be subjective, with treatment continuing for an indeterminant period than when confinement is caused by other illnesses. These characteristics are often extended to outpatient care, when treatment may be highly elective on the part of the health insurance subscriber.2

This article is based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' 1985 survey of benefits for full-time employees in medium and large firms. A sample of approximately 1,500 establishments yielded information on the detailed provisions of more than 2,200 health insurance plans either fully or partially financed by employers. The statistical universe covers 43,000 firms employing more than 23 million people.3

Mental health care coverage

Prior to the 1940's, treatment for mental disorders was usually provided only in State mental hospitals. Most general hospitals had little, if any, psychiatric facilities. Health insurance carriers, which emerged in the late 1930's, confined benefits to nonpsychiatric illnesses or disabilities. Consequently, mentally ill patients, who might require extended periods of hospitalization, were excluded.

After World War II, general hospitals opened onsite psychiatric clinics and added psychiatrists to their staffs. These developments prompted commercial insurance carriers to include hospitalization coverage for mental illness.

Another factor in the growth of mental health benefits was the adoption of State laws mandating inclusion of mental care in health insurance policies offered by commercial carriers. By 1984, more than half of the States had enacted such statutes.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans followed commercial carriers into the mental health care field. Historically, Blue Cross and Blue Shield organizations had very few member hospitals with psychiatric facilities, but they began to expand their coverage because of greater integration of psychiatric and medical care.4 By 1971, all Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans provided mental health coverage in their hospital and medical benefits.5

In the 1950's, outpatient mental health coverage was introduced by commercial carriers; by the late 1960's, it was widespread in plans funded both by commercial insurers and Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Initially, this coverage provided the same level of benefits as for nonpsychiatric ailments. Soon, however, insurers placed limits on outpatient mental care to avoid paying for treatment that might continue for an indefinite period.

The pattern set in the 1950's remains very much in evidence. Outpatient mental health care generally has special limitations on coverage, while for some employees, inpatient mental care has the same coverage as for other ailments. In almost all health plans, coverage has been expanded to include some outpatient mental health care.6

An overview of coverage patterns, 1980-85

The 1980-85 employee benefit surveys document the extent to which health insurance participants in medium and large firms have coverage for mental disorders.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Mental Health Benefits Financed by Employers
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.