Each year, an estimated one in four U.S. adults deals with a mental health issue, and at last count, close to 22 million people met the criteria for a substance use disorder. That\u2019s the bad news. The good news is that fewer of us have to go it alone when facing such problems thanks to the combined effects of two pieces of legislation. The first is a 2008 parity law that requires insurers that offer mental health and addiction treatment coverage to provide it at the same levels as medical care. In addition, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which established access to individual and small group insurance plans that make mental health and addiction treatment an essential benefit. This act can help you make the most out of mental health and addiction treatment. However, despite the broadened coverage, it\u2019s far from smooth sailing. Some have struggled with pushback from insurance companies reluctant to live up to the full letter of the laws. Others with coverage for the first time aren\u2019t sure how to use the help at their disposal. Furthermore, others aren\u2019t even aware that they are legally eligible for such coverage. If mental health and addiction treatment benefits matter to you \u2014 and for your well-being, they should \u2014 these tips can help you make the most of them. Know What You Have Your insurer is required to provide you with an easy-to-understand explanation of your benefits. If you\u2019re not sure how extensive your mental health and addiction treatment coverage is, or if you even have any, ask. Insurance offerings vary, and some plans remain exempt from the new provisions. However, David DeVoursney, branch chief of the Office of Policy Planning and Innovation for the SAMHSA, explained that in most cases, if you have a health plan, you also have mental health and addiction treatment benefits with the parity protections. For example, that means that if your health plan charges no co-pay for medical services, it should also demand no co-pay for mental health services. \u201cThe crux of the parity protections is that generally there shouldn\u2019t be restrictions on mental health and substance use benefits that aren\u2019t also applied to physical health benefits,\u201d DeVoursney said. Striking that balance is not always so clear-cut, however, and it can become tricky to determine just what constitutes parity in some areas. That makes it even more important to know what\u2019s in your health plan so you can be your advocate. \u201cDon\u2019t just assume that because you are challenged by your insurer on something that you don\u2019t have the protections,\u201d DeVoursney said. Shop Smart Shopping for health plans during open enrollment \u2014 whether mulling the offerings of an employer or comparing the individual policies available \u2014 is a complicated business. However, doing your homework pays off, DeVoursney said. If you know you\u2019ll need a certain type of mental health or addiction treatment service, make sure the plan you are considering covers it before you sign up. \u201cAnd look at the level of copayments or coinsurance,\u201d he said. \u201cIf you\u2019re living paycheck to paycheck and you have coverage for counseling in your plan but are required to pay a $30 co-pay every time you go in, that may be cost prohibitive.\u201d Anyone can seek coverage through the insurance marketplace set up by the Affordable Care Act, DeVoursney noted. However, if you have access to health insurance through your employer and forgo it to buy an individual plan through the marketplace, you won\u2019t be eligible for the subsidies that generally make such plans affordable. For information on plans and to be connected to your state marketplace, as well as to locate insurance\u00a0navigators and assisters\u00a0who can help you decide what coverage is best for you, visit\u00a0healthcare.gov. Once established with a health plan, DeVoursney emphasized, \u201cpay attention to what\u2019s in the plan summary documents and the materials you receive, and be sure that you are receiving those benefits.\u201d If you find you need more information, request it. Your insurer is required by law to provide it. Fight for Your Rights If you feel you aren\u2019t getting all of your mental health and substance use disorder benefits, help is available. A good first step, DeVoursney said, is to take your grievance to your state insurance commissioner. You can get contact information for your area through the State Association of Insurance Commissioners. If that doesn\u2019t lead to a solution, you have other options, depending on where your plan originated. If you are covered through an employer, contact the Department of Labor and speak to a benefits adviser toll free at 866-444-3272 or submit an online request for assistance. Those with an individual plan, one bought through the health insurance marketplace or a Medicaid plan, can request help through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services at cms.gov by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 877-267-2323, extension 61565. Stories of insurers dragging their feet on treatment coverage are, sadly, not uncommon. As a result, you must be prepared to be assertive. If You Need Your Benefits, Use Them We all hope that we\u2019ll never have to use the mental health and substance use disorder treatment benefits now available. But we shouldn\u2019t shy away from taking advantage of them. The sooner you act, the more likely it is that emerging problems won\u2019t become big ones. Don\u2019t wait until your mental health gets worse before reaching out for help. Be proactive and schedule a mental wellness visit, just as you might schedule an annual physical with a doctor. Remember, those benefits aren\u2019t just something to be dipped into when you\u2019re at the end of your rope; they\u2019re about keeping you from getting there. At Promises Behavioral Health, we want to help you make the most out of mental health and addiction treatment. As such we offer a wide range of treatment programs, including: \tAlcohol addiction treatment \tHeroin addiction treatment \tCocaine addiction treatment \tMeth addiction treatment \tOpioid addiction treatment To learn more about how to make the most out of mental health and addiction treatment, contact us today at .