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Colorado considering bill that would require insurance to cover annual mental health exams

HB 21-1068 remains under consideration and is expected to move forward to appropriations Friday morning.

DENVER — A bill moving through the Colorado legislature is aimed at breaking the cost barrier that may come with accessing mental health resources. 

HB 21-1068 would require health insurance plans to provide coverage for the total cost of an annual mental health examination. 

If passed, the coverage would apply to insurance plans issued or renewed in the state on or after Jan. 1, 2022. 

State Rep. Dafna Michaelson Janet (D-Adams County) said the pandemic heightened the need for increased mental health resources. She said she is optimistic it will receive bipartisan support. 

"We passed it out of the first committee, unanimously, and it was health and insurance, it’s not an easy committee," she said. 

"The whole idea of an annual mental health wellness exam is that you would go every year just like you go to your doctor to your physical and spend 45 – 60 minutes, depending on your insurance plan, with a qualified mental health care provider that you can select from a large range of different types of providers and talk about the different things that are going on in your life," Michael Janet added. 

The bill would require insurance coverage to:

  • Be comparable to the coverage of a physical examination
  • Comply with the requirements of federal mental health parity laws
  • Not require any deductibles, copayments or coinsurance for the mental health wellness examination.

State Rep. Brianna Titone (D-Jefferson County) is also sponsoring the bill and said breaking the cost barrier is one of many steps forward. 

"Running bills like this helps to start the conversation up and we need to have those conversations as uncomfortable as they are," Titone said. 

Titone said expanding access to mental health resources could also benefit the economy. 

"Mental health crisis cost a lot more to deal with than it does the preventative care," she said. "We can save a ton of money on the backend when people don’t have to deal with emergency room visits or loss of work."

The bill remains under consideration and is expected to move forward to appropriations Friday morning. 

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