Best Insurance Companies For Mental Health

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

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products, and articles are reviewed by healthcare professionals for medical accuracy. You can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, compliant healthcare policies now encompass mental health insurance as one of the 10 essential healthcare benefits.

An alarming number of people struggle with some form of behavioral health problem. In the United States, around 51 million people experience mental illness each year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Even more worrying is that 56% of those adults didn't receive any treatment for their condition in the previous year.

Receiving appropriate care and support when you have a mental health issue is pivotal to recovery but can be expensive. This roundup will help you understand your mental health insurance options. Our analysis compared factors like company reputation, price, coverage, availability, and limitations of some of the best mental health insurance options before deciding on our top four. Continue reading to find out what the top picks are for mental health insurance.

Best Insurance Companies For Mental Health

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

Best Overall : United Healthcare


United Healthcare

 United Healthcare

Why We Chose It: United Healthcare is our top overall choice for mental health coverage thanks to their impressive network and reputation coupled with 24/7 support for mental health issues, treatment options for substance abuse disorders, and excellent online resources.

What We Liked
  • Emotional support line available 24/7

  • Telehealth available

  • Talk space online therapy

  • Online quotations

  • Superb reputation

  • Extensive provider network

  • A smartphone app that integrates with medical records

  • Available in all 50 states

What We Didn't Like
  • May not be available in some counties

  • More expensive than some providers

For those struggling with mental health issues, easily accessible, ongoing support is essential. United Healthcare provides comprehensive mental health care resources, including telehealth, telephone support, treatment for substance abuse, and other behavioral health programs, making them an easy choice for our overall preference for mental health coverage. 

United Healthcare is an industry giant, with a network spanning more than 1.3 million doctors and 6,500 hospitals and other facilities across the United States. With an A rating for their financial stability from AM Best, United also boasts a rating of 3.0 or better out of a maximum of 5 in most states that it offers service in, according to the National Committee for Quality Assurance ratings. 

It's straightforward to get a quote and buy a plan using United's online portal or the ACA Marketplace. Policies come in five tiers from basic through comprehensive platinum coverage. Expect to pay from $500 per month for minimal coverage with an $8,150 deductible to $1,750 per month for the platinum plan with no deductible. The maximum you'll have to pay out-of-pocket is around $8,000. As with all marketplace plans, there are no annual limits for coverage. 

Substance abuse is covered, and United also includes treatment options for gambling and compulsive spending. Policies usually cover both inpatient and outpatient treatment options such as detox and rehabilitation, but you may need to use in-network providers, depending on the plan. There's also a free and anonymous, around-the-clock helpline that allows plan members to connect to a specialized substance recovery advocate.

Prescription coverage is available with several policies. You can also customize your plan with supplemental insurance for dental or vision care, critical illness, hospitalization, travel, and more. United offers discounts when you bundle insurance options.

Marketplace plans are available to people of all ages, but you must wait for specific enrollment periods to join and then two to six weeks for coverage to begin.

United's plans that comply with ACA don't exclude pre-existing conditions but exclude any injuries from some sports, cosmetic treatments, and medical care outside the country.

Best for Customer Service : Kaiser


Kaiser Permanente

 Kaiser Permanente

Why We Chose It: Kaiser Permanente earned the best for customer service choice because of their consistent industry ratings for excellent customer satisfaction and range of options like psychiatric care for people with mental, emotional, and substance abuse problems.

What We Liked
  • Access to mental health services without referrals

  • Unparalleled customer service

  • Online quotations

  • Coordinated insurance and health care

  • Personalized treatment plans

What We Didn't Like
  • Members must use Kaiser facilities

  • Limited to nine states and the District of Columbia

Health industry leader Kaiser Permanente states that mental health and wellness services are an essential part of someone's total care experience. To that end, they provide a wide range of mental care options such as counseling and therapy, crisis intervention, addiction and recovery support, and help for eating disorders. This range of services coupled with their consistently high customer satisfaction ratings with J.D. Power and Associates made Kaiser our top customer service choice.

It is a managed care organization with its own network of 39 hospitals, 719 medical offices, and teams of psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, and clinical nurse specialists. Members can see any provider without referrals.

There's a range of therapy and treatment choices such as suicide prevention, depression and anxiety resources, counseling, therapy, and help for substance use on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Kaiser also provides online communities, support groups, podcasts, and wellness coaching to reduce stress. 

You can get a quotation for their bronze, silver, gold, and platinum policies on the Kaiser website. There is no exclusion for health conditions with their ACA plans, and people of all ages can purchase a plan. There are typical exclusions like elective or experimental procedures and long-term custodial care. Prescription drug coverage varies by plan and policies can be customized with vision and dental riders. 

Monthly premiums start at $400 for the bronze plan with a deductible of $7,000 or $3,500 with a maximum out-of-pocket of $7,000. The coverage doesn't max out. Typical ACA waiting times apply of between two and six weeks. 

A significant drawback with Kaiser plans is that you'll need to be a resident of California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, Virginia, Washington, or the District of Columbia.

Best for Telehealth Coverage : Cigna


Cigna

 Cigna

Why We Chose It: Our top telehealth coverage pick is Cigna because they provide telehealth services, allowing their clients to connect with licensed counselors or psychiatrists around-the-clock. They also offer a nurse hotline service.

What We Liked
  • Access to 24/7 nurse hotline

  • Mental health virtual care

  • Online quotations

  • Large provider network

  • Rated A for financial stability with AM Best

What We Didn't Like
  • Medical plans only available in 12 states

  • Some reports of poor customer service

Cigna is a global insurance company and one of the oldest providers in the United States. When you choose a Cigna plan, you may not need out-of-network approvals, and they have excellent round-the-clock virtual care, which is why they took our top spot for telehealth services.

With Cigna, you can access their behavioral health network of licensed mental health providers, case management, inpatient and outpatient services, plus referrals to local community support groups, behavioral coaches, and online resources. Another Cigna perk is their Healthy Rewards program, with savings on massages and wellness programs.

You can find quotes for your location on their website. You'll find the ACA policies starting at around $300 for basic coverage with a $6,750 deductible and $8,150 maximum out-of-pocket. The cover doesn't max out, and the typical ACA waiting times apply.

Some plans include prescription drug coverage. You can also choose from a wide range of riders to customize your plan, including hospital indemnity, cancer treatment, lump-sum heart attack, and stroke insurance.

Cigna provides both inpatient and outpatient treatment services for substance use issues, plus follow case management. Their exclusions include long-term care, non-medical counseling, and complementary medicine.

If you are considering a Cigna health insurance plan, you'll need to live in one of the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, or Texas.

Best for Additional Resources : Aetna


Aetna

 Aetna

Why We Chose It: We chose Aetna as best for additional resources because of its extensive range of online tools and information for mental health and well-being, coupled with extra benefits like acupuncture and chiropractic therapies.

What We Liked
  • Online mental health screening tools

  • Simple search to find therapists and psychiatrists

  • Helpful hotlines and resources

  • Phone and video counseling

  • Nationwide availability

What We Didn't Like
  • No short-term health insurance options

  • No individual health plans

Aetna's history dates back to 1853, and they now provide around 39 million people with Medicare Advantage plans, group insurance, and prescription drug coverage. One drawback with Aetna is that you can't buy individual health plans from them. This means that outside of Medicare & Medicaid supplements, you can only receive coverage from Aetna through an employer.

Aetna took our top position in the additional resources category because it is committed to putting an increased emphasis on mental health. They demonstrate this with an impressive range of different support options for behavioral health and specific programs to help people manage mental illnesses.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) consistently rank Aetna highly in their annual star ratings. It has a financial strength rating of A (Excellent) by AM Best and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) rates it as A+, for excellent customer service.

Aetna plans cover inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment solutions, and it is committed to patient follow-up with their Continuing Care program that supports people after their treatment is completed.

If you are eligible for Medicare, you could opt for the Aetna Medicare Plus Plan. With this policy, you will pay a $0 monthly premium, $0 deductible, and have a maximum out-of-pocket of $999 per year. It includes prescription drug coverage.

As with all Medicare Advantage plans, coverage doesn't max out, and Aetna won't exclude you for pre-existing health conditions, but you will have to meet any Medicare Part A and Part B premiums. For most people, this means the standard Part B Medicare premium of $148.50. Depending on when you enroll, you may have to wait 1–3 months for coverage to begin.

Aetna provides a range of additional health insurance options to customize your plan, such as dental and vision care, additional home help care, and foreign travel.

Depending on your plan, out-of-network services may be excluded or have additional costs. Other exclusions include experimental or investigational services, psychodrama, carbon dioxide, bioenergetic, and primal therapies.

Final Verdict

Choosing suitable mental health insurance depends on your requirements and finances. Providers offer a range of services to support people’s mental well-being, so it’s essential to carefully review each policy and ensure it covers your specific needs.

Overall, our top pick is United Healthcare for best overall mental health insurance. With their impressive network and easily accessible support for mental health issues, plus a range of treatment options for substance abuse disorders, they are an excellent choice.

For people who value excellent client care, Kaiser Permanente earned the best for customer service choice. They consistently earn excellent industry ratings for customer satisfaction, and they provide psychiatric care and other therapies without referrals.

Cigna is a sound choice if telehealth is a priority, as clients can connect with licensed counselors or psychiatrists at any time, and there’s also a nurse hotline service.

To complete our roundup, we chose Aetna as the best or additional resources. They have an impressive range of online tools and a library of information for mental health and well-being, along with extra wellness benefits like acupuncture and chiropractic therapies.

Compare Providers

Best Mental Health Insurance
Insurance provider Why we picked it Monthly Premiums
United Healthcare Best Overall $500
Kaiser Best for Customer Service $400
Cigna Best for Telehealth $300
Aetna Best for Additional Services N/A - Varies by employer

Frequently Asked Questions

How Does Insurance for Mental Health Differ?

Generally, insurance for mental health is included within an overall health insurance policy; there are no specifically tailored insurance policies for mental health coverage. However, many health plans include some level of coverage for mental health following the Affordable Care Act. 

If you feel that you would benefit from emotional support or mental health services, start by reviewing different health insurance offerings. Therapies covered and costs involved can vary significantly by the plan, so it is essential to carefully review policy documentation before deciding on the option with the best coverage for your circumstances.

What Is Typically Covered by Mental Health Insurance?

Since 2014, health insurance plans must cover minimal essential services, including mental health, following the Obama administration reform.

The behavioral health benefits that a plan provides must include:

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

If plans are not ACA approved, it is essential to check the policy wording to see what mental health services are covered, as these could be severely limited.

Are Any Services Excluded From Coverage?

Although policies include inpatient rehabilitation or substance use care, they exclude long-term care. This type of service is defined as medical and non-medical care provided to individuals who can't perform necessary daily living activities.

Many insurance companies also exclude elective procedures, experimental procedures, complementary medicine, and non-medical counseling.

Can You Be Denied Coverage for Health Reasons?

If you choose health insurance covered by the Affordable Care Act, you cannot be denied coverage for pre-existing medical conditions. 

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

Does Standard Health Insurance Cover Mental Health Treatment?

All standard health-insurance plans that conform to ACA must provide guaranteed access to mental health treatment services.

The government mandate that these health insurance plans must cover the following 10 essential health benefits:

  • 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 roundup, we evaluated 15 companies that offer mental health insurance, before selecting our picks. 

Companies that offered a range of online resources, accessible counseling, support services, and a range of therapies carried more weight in our analysis.

We also 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 Better Business Bureau for client satisfaction, and consumer intelligence data from JD Power to establish their industry standing.

Was this page helpful?
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. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Mental health by the numbers. Updated March 2021.

  2. National Committee for Quality Assurance. NCQA Health Insurance Plan ratings 2019–2020— summary report (private/commercial). Updated Sept. 2019.

  3. AM Best. AM Best affirms credit ratings of UnitedHealth Group and most subsidiaries; upgrades credit ratings of certain subsidiaries. Updated December 18, 2020.

  4. AM Best. A.M. Best affirms credit ratings of Aetna, Inc. and its subsidiaries; affirms credit ratings of SilverScript Insurance Company. Updated November 29, 2018.

  5. Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services. 2021 Medicare Parts A & B Premiums and Deductibles, Updated Nov. 6, 2020.

  6. Commonwealth Fund. The ACA At 10: How Has It Impacted Mental Health Care? Updated April 3, 2020.

  7. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Information On Essential Health Benefits (EHB) Benchmark Plans.

  8. Healthcare.gov. Long-term Care - Glossary.

  9. Healthcare.gov. Find Out What Marketplace Health Insurance Plans Cover.