Expanding Access to Behavioral Health Resources for Children
The need for adequate access to behavioral and mental health resources is well recognized. Support for coverage by public and private health plans has been made through government regulations such as the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 and 2008, and provisions of the Affordable Care Act of 2010. These measures were designed to ensure that all Americans are provided with adequate insurance coverage for behavioral health issues equivalent to that provided for physical healthcare. While measures like these have gone a long way to assuring access and coverage for behavioral health treatment in adults, the same focus has not routinely been provided to make sure that children’s behavioral health is adequately addressed. Behavioral health providers are often tasked with ensuring that information and resources regarding treatment options and cost-of-care provisions are available to families with needs.
Two primary sources of health care support for minors are Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which combine to provide coverage to about 57% of American children. Inarguably, the need for mental health services for children and adolescents is vital, as the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) reports that, while 38% of Medicaid dollars spent to treat children is attributable to those who use behavioral health services, this group only makes up about 10% of the total number receiving Medicaid coverage. The CHCS further points out that only about half of Medicaid-covered children prescribed psychotropic drug therapies receive accompanying behavioral health treatment to support the medication. These profound disparities highlight the opportunity for behavioral health professionals to increase awareness of the covered treatment options available and the benefits of taking advantage of such treatment for young family members as early as possible.
The benefit of behavioral health treatment for children and adolescents to their families, and society in general – not to mention the benefit to the young patients themselves – is immense. Intervention in behavioral health issues during early developmental stages is a key to successful lifelong management of underlying conditions, as well as paving a path to avoid adverse ancillary events such as school dropout, substance use disorders, and suicide ideation. Therapeutic guidance provided at early stages can help foster lifelong habits to improve long-term behavioral health in affected populations, and the resources are widely available to address the need. The challenge lies in broadening awareness among the population of interest and meeting the regulatory requirements to help them bridge the financial gap.
To inform families of available treatment options, provide cost-of-care resources, and meet compliance requirements of the agencies and healthcare organizations that are involved in the process, the need for adequate record systems can be daunting. Fortunately, there is an array of data management solutions offered by OPUS EHR to address such needs. From assessment and progress tracking, medications management, and e-prescription solutions, to insurance verification, revenue cycle management, and demographic reporting, OPUS EHR has the tools needed to meet the requirements of patient families and industry regulators. OPUS EHR’s integrated solutions manage data with ease and help keep behavioral health providers from being bogged down in red tape. Contact your OPUS sales agent today to find out more about the powerful solutions OPUS EHR offers.