People struggle to get help

A statewide poll shows that the top health issue Californians want their governor and Legislature to address is making sure treatment is available for people with mental health problems: 88 percent called it extremely or very important.

Yet most Californians think there’s not enough mental health care available in the state—especially if they’ve tried to get it.

In recent decades, the state and federal governments have passed laws requiring insurance companies to provide patients with equal levels of care for physical and mental illnesses. It’s called “parity.”

Passing such laws is one thing, enforcing them is another. While most insurers no longer limit the number of visits to providers or charge higher co-pays, pre-authorization requirements and determinations of “medical necessity” can still act as barriers to care.