Increasing Access to Behavioral Health Care

Continuing to Increase Behavioral Health (BH) Care Access and Ensure Parity Between BH and Physical Health Care Services

Ensuring access to physical and behavioral health care is a core tenet of OHIC's work. The office's statutory authority allows it to collaborate with other state agencies to seek delivery system changes that improve behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment, and also give it the authority to direct the state's insurers towards innovative policies and practices that further integrate physical and behavioral health care delivery. An essential process in improving parity and access to behavioral health care services in the state is OHIC's annual in-depth review of health insurance benefit coverage documents. This annual review helps ensure that all insurers provide coverage for treatment of behavioral health services under the same terms and conditions as other illnesses and diseases.

Market Conduct Exams

OHIC’s concentrated oversight and enforcement of federal and state parity laws are part of the state’s multipronged approach to ensuring access to mental health and substance use disorder services in Rhode Island. The office has completed market conduct exams of all four major commercial health insurers operating in Rhode Island to ensure that behavioral health care is covered at parity with physical health care—consistent with federal and state law. Market conduct exams carried out by OHIC measure compliance with laws and regulations relating to the coverage of mental health and substance use disorder services and play a critical role in eliminating the disparities between physical and behavioral health care. In addition to fixing the non-compliant procedures, in lieu of penalties, each insurer donated to a behavioral health fund created by OHIC at the Rhode Island Foundation. The funding has been distributed through a competitive grant process to provide critical resources for nonprofit organizations across the state working to meet the behavioral health and substance use disorder needs of Rhode Islanders.

COVID-19 Behavioral Health Fund

OHIC established a COVID-19 Behavioral Health Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation with more than $5 million designated to fund nonprofits working to help Rhode Islanders cope with behavioral health challenges brought on and exasperated by the pandemic. This funding was made available by the state’s four major insurers, as a result of behavioral health coverage compliance reviews conducted by OHIC. View the list of nonprofits being supported by OHIC by clicking here.