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Bill would require health coverage for adolescent depression screenings

NJBIZ - 6/21/2019

Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting more than 300 million people. Children and adults with major depressive disorder (MDD) have been found to be at greater risk for recurrent depression in adulthood, along with other mental disorders and suicidal ideation.
Assembly Bill 1833cleared an Assembly panel on June 13 requiring health insurers to cover screenings for major depressive disorder in adolescents so long as such screenings continue to receive an “A” or “B” rating from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force. Treatment of MDD detected through screenings can alleviate symptoms of depression and improve a person’s quality of life.The measure would take effect 180 days after enactment and would apply to policies or contracts issued or renewed on or after the effective date. The measure now goes to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.
The bill was sponsored by Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt, D-6th District; Angelica Jimenez, D-32nd District; Jamel Holley, D-20th District; and Valerie Vainieri Huttle, D-37th District.
“To achieve better outcomes in adulthood, it is critical that we identify mental health disorders early. Depression screening is an easy way to catch mental health issues at an early stage and establish a treatment plan that will help manage symptoms,” said Lampitt. “We must treat mental health care in the same fashion that we do for physical health and place a strong focus on preventative care. Mental health disorders are treatable but it is important that we identify the problem before a person is in crisis. Given the prevalence of mental health issues among today’s youth, we must take action to ensure adolescents struggling with their mental health are able to get the help they need.”
The legislation would apply to hospital, medical and health service corporations; commercial individual, small employer and larger group insurers; health maintenance organizations; and the State Health Benefits Program and the School Employees’ Health Benefits Program. Insurers would be required to provide benefits to the same extent as for any other condition under the contract, except the insurer would not be permitted to impose cost-sharing like copayments, deductibles or coinsurance.
The bill would not apply to those insurers who contractually reserved the right to change the premium, such as Medicaid.

CREDIT: Anthony Vecchione


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