Closing the mental health access gap: two alternative solutions to Level Up your mental health benefits
New products to meet the growing demand for meaningful mental health benefits: the Mental Health HRA and the Mental Health MAP
We’re all familiar with the “access gap.” While research continues to tell us that both employees and employers desire meaningful mental health benefits, EAP utilization is woefully low: in 2022, only 2-3% of eligible employees used a traditional EAP.1 There’s a large unmet gap between desirability of mental health benefits and utilization of EAPs.
Our research has shown that the “gap” is a product of access barriers obstructing utilization.
In the past few years, several point solutions and apps have been introduced as options for employers to offer. Some solutions have aimed at increasing support for specific mental health needs, like autism, while others have provided digital-based self-care, focused on areas such as meditation or sleep.
While these solutions have definitely helped to round-out a company’s mental health benefits portfolio, they still haven’t fully closed the gap left by traditional EAPs in terms of helping employees access and afford mental health therapy.
That’s why Level has introduced two new products to provide employees with greater access to one-on-one mental health therapy: The Mental Health HRA (Health Reimbursement Arrangement) and the Mental Health MAP (Maximum Access Plan). Both function as ERISA-compliant benefit plans, providing employees with an established dollar amount they can use to pay for any licensed therapist or mental health service. In other words, employees are not limited to a network or a fixed number of visits.
These two products can ensure you meet the compliance requirements alongside your health plans. For example, the MAP is designed to sit alongside any health plan offerings (including high-deductible health plans), while the HRA was designed to be compatible with HMO/PPO offerings. The following chart provides an overview of their similarities and differences:
Both plans can help employers overcome the above-mentioned accessibility and affordability gaps experienced with EAPs.
Regarding privacy, the ability to seek treatment or help from any licensed therapist of their choosing gives employees the assurances they need in terms of data security. Moreover, products that function as simple dollar amounts offer the freedom to choose when and where to see the practitioner of their choice, thereby overcoming network and availability limitations.
Not having a restrictive network also improves diversity representation, as employees are able to find a therapist with lived experience of their ethnicity, gender, and sexuality.
These Level products do not come with session limits or deductibles. Funds are made available on day one, the only limit being the amount of money the employer allocates to the stipend.
Intentional benefits for unique people, to use in unique ways
There will always be one major drawback to any one-size-fits-all product: the risk of it fitting few, or none. Until recently, employers have (out of necessity, or out of choice) designed and offered "catch-all” benefits, like traditional EAPs, that – while undoubtedly providing essential help and service where and how they can – have come with limitations: network sizes, limited employee utilization and actionable insights and concerns regarding confidentiality.
Level’s Mental Health HRA and the Mental Health MAP offer a simpler, more effective approach. By simply putting money into the hands of employees, they are given greater agency in the decisions that affect their most unique and personal needs. While this clearly benefits the individual employee, these intentional benefits also amplify your culture, and demonstrate your understanding of the real needs of your workforce by providing a solution designed to be used rather than just checking a box.
Every mental health journey is different but all deserve to be treated equally and equitably. Level’s products do just that. And just as mental health challenges are costly to everyone, a simple, efficient and effective solution is to everyone’s benefit.
Level innovates for employers and employees, so you can move forward together.
1 D. Witters, “Showing That You Care About Employee Wellbeing”, Gallup (April 18, 2022). Link