July is BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month

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Vincent Plymell

Two resources from the Colorado Division of Insurance help to highlight mental and behavioral health. 

The Colorado Division of Insurance is celebrating Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) Mental Health Awareness Month, also known as National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, by alerting Coloradans to two specific resources related to insurance coverage and mental health.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health coordinates efforts every July to bring awareness to the unique struggles that racial and ethnic minority communities face regarding mental health in the United States, struggles that were made even more challenging with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Mental and behavioral health issues continue to be a challenge for all Coloradans, and the BIPOC community faces even more difficulties,” said Colorado Insurance Commissioner Conway. “I encourage people to use not only the resources available from the Division of Insurance, but any of the resources out there that can help them find and access needed mental and behavioral health services.” 

With health insurance, a key component of how they should cover mental and behavioral health services is mental health parity. Parity laws prohibit health plans from being more restrictive with mental health, behavioral health, and substance use disorder benefits than the medical and surgical benefits the plans offer. Colorado state law requires that health insurance companies cover services for mental and behavioral health conditions the same way they cover other medical conditions, like diabetes or heart disease. And both federal and Colorado state law provide protections for consumers accessing mental and behavioral health services.

The Division’s Mental / Behavioral Health and Insurance website discusses the ins and outs of parity, when health insurance is required to provide parity, common parity violations and how mental health parity is enforced with health insurance companies. The site also offers a host of additional resources regarding mental and behavioral health. 

With the Colorado Option recently being signed into law, the Division is undertaking the implementation of this important program to save people money on health care. A key component of the law is the development of a standardized benefit plan that health insurance companies will offer. This will be a plan that offers the same benefits across insurance carriers, with respect to covered services, co-payments, deductibles and coinsurance. A standardized plan will provide affordable, quality health insurance to individuals, families, and small businesses across the state, and standardizing benefits will make it easier for Colorado consumers to shop and compare plans. The Division plans to include mental health services as a benefit within the standard plan. 

As part of the development of the standardized plan for the Colorado Option, the Division will hold a series of six stakeholder meetings from July through November 2021. Individuals working in or representing communities that are diverse in regards to race, ethnicity, immigration status, age, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or geographic region are specifically invited to participate. Physicians, members of the healthcare industry, consumer representatives, and individuals who are or represent health care workers are also invited to participate. In addition, the Division seeks participation from people from the many geographic regions within our state. 

The goal of these meetings is to discuss the framework for the standard plan and seek input from interested parties. We encourage Coloradans, including those interested in mental and behavioral health issues, to participate in these important meetings. Visit the Division's "Colorado Option" website for more details. 


About the Division of Insurance:

The Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), regulates the insurance industry and assists consumers and other stakeholders with insurance issues. Visit doi.colorado.gov for more information or call 303-894-7499 / toll free 800-930-3745

About DORA:

DORA is dedicated to preserving the integrity of the marketplace and is committed to promoting a fair and competitive business environment in Colorado. Consumer protection is our mission. Visit dora.colorado.gov for more information or call 303-894-7855 / toll free 800-886-7675

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