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Medicare Increases Coverage of Mental Health Services

Last Updated: 9/1/14

Medicare has increased the amount of mental health coverage beneficiaries are entitled to. After years of unequal treatment, Medicare now covers mental health care the same way it covers physical illnesses.

Previously, Medicare covered only 50 percent of the cost of mental health treatment. In 2008, Congress passed a law that required Medicare to gradually begin covering a greater portion of the cost until it was equal to the amount Medicare pays for outpatient medical care.

In 2014, Medicare began covering 80 percent of the approved amount for outpatient care, including visits to psychiatrists and licensed drug and alcohol counselors. Beneficiaries will still have to pay any applicable deductibles and coinsurance amounts. These new coverage rules apply to Original Medicare only. Individuals covered by a Medicare Advantage plan may have different costs and rules. 

Medicare still puts a cap on inpatient mental health coverage, paying for no more than 190 days of inpatient psychiatric hospital services during a beneficiary’s lifetime

For more information on Medicare's coverage of mental health, click here.

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