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Proposed Bill to Create Mental Health Insurance Coverage

Photo: Taelar Pollmann · The Sentry
Bill 1086 could impact the stigma surrounding mental health.

Bill would do more than just insure mental health care

Mental health is not an item on the checklist when people go to their annual doctor visits. The stigma around health where symptoms cannot be physically seen can discourage patients from seeking help from physicians. However, that could begin to change, as the proposed House Bill 1086, that has been voted through in the Colorado House, would require state insurers to include yearly mental health checkups.  

According to The Denver Post, “House Bill 1086 would require insurance plans regulated by the state of Colorado to cover a visit of up to 60 minutes with a clinical social worker, addictions counselor or other mental health provider,” providing more in-depth evaluations, especially for those who are not showing obvious symptoms of a potential psychological disorder. The article goes on to explain that these visits would exclude federal plans and benefits from companies that are outside of the state of Colorado.  

Dr. Franklin Kim, the director of the CU Denver Counseling Center, believes annual mental health checkups would raise awareness, garner prevention, and promote wellness. “This is a wonderful, much needed legislation,” he said. “Early detection and intervention is always more efficacious in terms of treatment, and certainly has the great potential to relieve the suffering of so many individuals who get to the point where they are in crisis.”  

Professor Alezix Halkovic, who teaches Psychology and Law, shared similar views with Dr. Franklin. “I am certainly not an expert on this particular legislation, but it is a huge step in the right direction,” she said. “While Coloradans are generally healthier than folks in most of the U.S., we have high rates of suicide and have seen more than our fair share of mass shootings.” 

Currently, the bill is waiting for votes in the House Appropriations Committee, according to The Denver Post, which is required of any piece of legislation that is asking for funds from the state. If the bill passes this committee, it will be on its way to the House of Representatives and then to the insurance commissioner.  

While the House Bill is waiting for its votes, there is a campus-wide mental health plan at CU Denver being facilitated by Dr. Kristin Kushmider, the Assistant Vice Chair of Health and Wellness. The plan’s vision is “a campus community that values, supports, and cultivates the mental well-being of all CU Denver students, faculty, and staff by providing a caring, welcoming, and accepting environment,” according to Dr. Kim. 

However, the House Bill 1086 is not receiving as much praise as the CU Denver plan is. As The Denver Post explains, the bill has spurred conversation with Colorado representatives and social workers who have been commenting on the two opposite extreme outcomes that could happen from this bill passing—Colorado will suffer from the already apparent shortage of mental health providers, or people will take advantage of the added benefit and move efficiently through the healthcare system.  

Despite the hesitancy that some have towards the bill being passed, Professor Halkovic shared her support. She said, “Initiating legislation that would de-stigmatize access to mental healthcare by making it routine could make a significant change for folks who are experiencing mental illness and otherwise would not seek treatment.” 

 

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