Health Insurance: Behavioral Health Services

Your insurance plan may offer mental health and addiction disorder (behavioral health) benefits. In New York State, most insurance plans must follow State and Federal laws that protect your right to access and coverage of behavioral health services.

If your insurance plan is covered by those laws, then any behavioral health services should be covered at the same level as medical services. In other words, it should be not more difficult to get care for behavioral health disorders than for physical health disorders. This is called behavioral health parity.

Equal Coverage

With the exception of a few plan types, most insurance plans in New York are required to cover treatment for mental health and addiction disorders. Plans that offer such coverage must cover treatment for behavioral health conditions equally — with similar cost-sharing and benefits — to treatment for physical health conditions. This means the coverage for mental health and addiction disorders must be the same as what is offered for physical health conditions.

In many cases, if your insurer denies you coverage of a mental health or addiction treatment or service, you can appeal the decision.

Get Help

For free and confidential help getting mental health or addiction services, contact the Community Health Access to Addiction and Mental Healthcare Project (CHAMP). CHAMP can help you find a provider, understand your insurance benefits, assist you with coverage denials and can connect you with other assistance you may need like legal or social services.

Service providers, care managers, case managers and peer specialists can also provide support and help you find resources.

Training for Health Care Workers

The Health Department offers a free virtual training for people who provide services in health, behavioral health or social services. This includes mental health and substance use providers, primary care providers, peer specialists, community health workers and care managers.

The training, called "Behavioral Health Parity 101 for Service Providers", takes 60 to 90 minutes. For more information, email BHParity@health.nyc.gov. See below to register for upcoming dates:

Training for Community Members

The Health Department offers a free virtual training to help anyone with health insurance learn more about access to behavioral health services. It will give you information on how behavioral health parity applies to your health insurance plan and your access to services.

The training, called "Behavioral Health Parity 101", takes 60 to 90 minutes. For more information, email BHParity@health.nyc.gov. See below to register for upcoming dates:

Additional Resources

  • Legal Action Center
    • LAC provides education, support, and free legal services for people living in New York who have addiction disorders.
  • Community Service Society
    • CSS helps New Yorkers get, keep, and make better use of their health insurance.
  • New York State Office of the Attorney General Health Care Bureau
    • Call the Bureau’s toll-free Health Care Helpline for information and assistance accessing and getting insurance coverage of health care.
    • Submit a complaint if you or a family member has had problems accessing emergency psychiatric care.
  • New York State Office of Mental Health Parity Enforcement
    • This state agency oversees and enforces parity laws in New York. You can file complaints, contact the agency with questions or learn more about the laws protecting your rights to behavioral health care coverage.
  • The Kennedy Forum
    • This national non-profit organization has developed educational resources and guides to educate consumers about their rights.

More Information