Best Insurance Companies For Mental Health

How to choose the best health insurance to cover mental health needs

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Nearly 20% of adults in the U.S. struggle with a mental health disorder, according to Mental Health America (MHA). That’s equivalent to almost 50 million Americans. The statistics around mental health are staggering, but it’s even more concerning that over half of adults with a mental illness never receive professional treatment.

After the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed, ACA-compliant health insurance policies expanded access to include mental health coverage as one of the 10 essential healthcare benefits. ACA plans are required to cover a variety of mental health services, including counseling, inpatient care, and substance abuse treatment. 

To help you learn more about your options for mental health insurance, we looked at some of the largest insurance companies that offer depression management plans through the ACA. Then, we compared the top providers based on factors like plan costs, plan options, state availability, customer satisfaction scores, and plan ratings.

Best Insurance Companies for Mental Health

Best Insurance Companies For Mental Health
Best Insurance Companies For Mental Health

Lowest Cost Plans for Depression Management : Oscar


Oscar Insurance logo

Oscar Insurance

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Wide selection of health management programs

  • Relatively low premiums and deductibles

  • Good pricing for depression management plans

  • $0 virtual care

  • Mobile app for plan management and member benefits

Cons
  • Plans only available in 21 states

  • Low NCQA plan rating

Why We Chose It

In our review of marketplace plans with depression management programs, Oscar’s often had low deductibles and lower-than-average premiums. For example, in Miami-Dade County, Florida, Oscar’s lowest premium for a plan with depression management is $331.21 per month (without premium tax credits), which is lower than competing providers in that area. Plus, Oscar has the biggest selection of health management programs out of the top providers we reviewed, including plans for managing heart disease, asthma, pregnancy, and more.

Oscar members also get access to telehealth, including $0 urgent care and primary care. And when you enroll in a plan, you get assigned to a dedicated care team that can help you find the services you need with the right provider. Through the Oscar mobile app, you can message your care team, schedule appointments, refill prescriptions, and earn rewards for tracking your steps.

It’s easy to shop for a health plan on Oscar’s website, but plans aren’t available nationwide. Also, Oscar’s health plans don’t have the best ratings. Oscar’s average NCQA plan rating is 2.75 out of 5, which is the lowest rating of the providers we reviewed. Plan ratings on healthcare.gov are two out five stars.

Best for Customer Satisfaction : Kaiser Permanente


Kaiser Permanente

 Kaiser Permanente

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Excellent customer satisfaction ratings

  • High NCQA rating

  • Free mental health resources for members

Cons
  • Limited plan availability

  • Small selection of plans

Why We Chose It

Kaiser Permanente stands out for its high customer satisfaction ratings. In J.D. Power’s 2022 U.S. Commercial Member Health Plan Study, Kaiser Permanente’s plans had the best overall customer satisfaction rating in five regions: California, Colorado, Maryland, Northwest (Oregon and Washington), and South Atlantic (Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina).

In addition to its top ratings for customer satisfaction, Kaiser Permanente’s health insurance plans are highly rated by the NCQA. The company’s average NCQA plan rating is 4.27 out of 5, which is the highest score out of the providers we reviewed.

Kaiser Permanente offers comprehensive coverage for mental health. Most plans cover individual and group therapy, health classes, and some self-care resources, like the Calm app (our top-rated app for anxiety). Members also get free, 24/7 access to Ginger, a mobile app that provides one-on-one mental health support with a personal coach.

Kaiser Permanente only sells health plans in eight states and Washington D.C., so it’s not an option for everyone.

Best for Nationwide Plans : Blue Cross Blue Shield


Blue Cross/Blue Shield

 Blue Cross/Blue Shield

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Health plans widely available

  • Good customer satisfaction ratings

  • Largest provider network

  • Blue365 member discount program

Cons
  • Highest depression management plan premiums

  • Plan costs and options vary by location

Why We Chose It

Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) has the highest-rated plans by both healthcare.gov and the NCQA with the widest availability. BCBS offers health insurance nationwide, but marketplace plans are not available in all states. Because of its wide network—1.7 million doctors and hospitals—members can find medical care from a BCBS-affiliated provider or hospital while traveling within the U.S. or internationally.

BCBS plans are sold and administered by 34 independent and local organizations, so plan options and plan costs depend on your location. BCBS plans are rated highly for overall customer satisfaction by J.D. Power in 12 regions, which indicates that customers are generally happy with the provider.

In addition, BCBS members get access to a variety of discounts through the Blue365 program. You can find savings on travel, healthy food, hearing aids, fitness trackers, vision exams, prescription glasses, supplements, fitness classes, and many other products and services.

BCBS is an excellent provider overall and has reasonable pricing for 3- and 4-star plans with depression management programs. In Miami-Dade County, Florida, BCBS’ lowest depression plan premium is $359.82. In El Paso County, Texas, the lowest premium is $319.47. 

Lowest Cost : Aetna


Aetna

 Aetna

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Lowest premiums in some areas

  • Wide range of plan options

  • Members can get care at a CVS MinuteClinic

  • MindCheck tool for mental health management

Cons
  • Plans sold in 21 states

  • High deductible for depression management plans

  • Doesn’t sell catastrophic plans

Why We Chose It 

Aetna has very competitive premiums in some areas. For example, in El Paso County, Texas, Aetna offers the cheapest plan with a depression management program at $286.40 per month. The next lowest premium is on a BCBS plan for $319.47, or about $33 more per month. However, premiums vary widely depending on location. (For instance, premiums on its Florida plans are not so low.) Aetna sells Marketplace plans in the Bronze, Silver, and Gold metal tiers. However, it’s the only provider we reviewed that doesn’t offer catastrophic health plans.

With an Aetna insurance plan, members can get walk-in medical care at a CVS MinuteClinic, and many services are low-cost or free. You can meet with your primary care provider or a behavioral health specialist in person, over the phone, or virtually from your home. You can also use the free MindCheck online tool to find supportive resources based on your emotional state.

Final Verdict

We reviewed the largest health insurance providers and found four that offer the best features for managing and caring for your mental health. Which is best for you depends on your needs. If you want an array of programs to manage various health concerns, consider Oscar. It also has generally well-priced plans in many areas. If you’re looking for a provider with a nationwide network, look no further than Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS). Consider Aetna if you want the convenience of same-day MinuteClinic visits. And if you live in an area served by Kaiser Permanente, you’ll likely have the best customer experience there.

Compare Providers

Insurance provider   Why we picked it  Monthly premium (33012 ZIP code)
Oscar Best for health management programs $331.21
Kaiser Permanente  Best for customer satisfaction  $330.86 (30369 ZIP code) 
Blue Cross Blue Shield  Best for nationwide plans  $359.82 
Aetna  Best plan options  $366.09 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does Insurance for Mental Health Differ?

Insurance companies don’t sell standalone mental health insurance plans. However, most general health insurance policies include coverage for mental health services. Any ACA-compliant health plan that you purchase through the Health Insurance Marketplace is required to include mental health coverage, though some plans also have programs specifically for managing depression. 

If you feel that you would benefit from emotional support or mental health services, start by reviewing different health insurance plans. The cost of therapy, medication, and inpatient care varies significantly based on your plan. It’s important to carefully review policy documentation in order to choose a plan with the best coverage for your circumstances.

What Is Typically Covered by Mental Health Insurance?

Health insurance plans sold on the Health Insurance Marketplace must cover minimal essential services, which includes some types of mental health care. The behavioral health benefits that an ACA-compliant plan must provide include:

  • Behavioral therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Counseling services
  • Group therapy
  • Online tools
  • Prescription medications
  • Psychotherapy
  • Talk therapy
  • Treatments for substance use

If you purchase a plan outside the marketplace, it might not include mental health benefits. Before you decide to purchase an off-market plan, make sure to check the policy wording to see what mental health services are covered. There’s no requirement for off-market plans to include mental health benefits.

Are Any Services Excluded From Coverage?

Some mental health services are excluded from health insurance plans. For example, while most policies include inpatient rehabilitation and substance use care, they don’t cover long-term care. In addition, many insurance companies exclude coverage for elective procedures, experimental procedures, complementary medicine, and non-medical counseling.

Every health insurance plan is different and has a unique list of exclusions. It’s a good idea to review the exclusions before buying a policy so you know exactly what is and is not covered.

Can You Be Denied Coverage for Health Reasons?

If you buy health insurance on healthcare.gov or your state exchange, you cannot be denied coverage for pre-existing medical conditions. This includes pre-existing mental health disorders, like depression and anxiety. 

However, if you opt for short-term health insurance or any policy offered outside of the marketplace, different rules apply, and you can be denied coverage for health reasons.

Does Standard Health Insurance Cover Mental Health Treatment?

All ACA-compliant health insurance plans are required to provide guaranteed access to mental health treatment services. The following 10 essential health benefits must be included with all plans purchased through the Marketplace:

  • Outpatient care
  • Hospitalization
  • Emergency services
  • Pregnancy, maternity, newborn care
  • Mental health and substance use disorder services, including counseling and psychotherapy
  • Prescription drugs
  • Rehabilitative services to help people recover mental and physical skills
  • Laboratory services
  • Preventative and wellness services, including chronic disease management
  • Pediatric services

Methodology 

To compile our list of companies, we evaluated the largest insurance companies that offer depression management programs through the federal health insurance exchange, healthcare.gov, and state exchanges. We considered the cost of these depression management plans using sample quotes for two ZIP codes. Companies that offered a range of online resources, accessible counseling, support services, and a range of therapies carried more weight in our analysis.

In addition, we looked at the company’s reputation and portfolio of offerings. Other considerations were the network’s size, availability across the country, policy terms, monthly premium costs, benefit amount, and customization options. 

Finally, we analyzed data from AM Best regarding financial stability, the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) and healthcare.gov star ratings for health plan quality, and consumer intelligence data from JD Power to establish industry standing for customer satisfaction.

Two women talking at counseling session

Lucy Lambriex / Getty Images

Article Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Mental Health America. "Adult Data Ranking."

  2. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Mental health by the numbers.

  3. J.D. Power. “ 2022 U.S. Commercial Member Health Plan Study.”