Zero-Dollar Copay for Mental Health Services Returns

by | Sep 19, 2023

Peak Health Alliance is proud announce that our new partner Elevate Health Plans will continue with an essential feature of the benefits it will offer—zero-dollar copay for mental health services.

After all, mental and physical health frequently go hand-in-hand. Why shouldn’t mental health services be covered in the same manner as physical health?

Peak Health Alliance first broached the idea in Summit County following several devastating cases of death by suicide, including adolescents. What steps could Peak Health Alliance and our insurance carrier partners take to reduce the barriers that discourage individuals from accessing mental health services?

Typically, mental health clinics and doctors have preferred to avoid the complexities and paperwork of accepting insurance coverage. Many mental health providers think insurance companies don’t pay enough for their services. They have also sought to avoid the perceived hassle of dealing with administrative complexities. You might have insurance to cover mental health treatment, but what good does that insurance do if you can’t find a doctor who accepts it?

After talking to therapists and surveying the community in 2018 and 2019, as Peak Health Alliance was getting organized, we stated in our request for proposals from insurance carriers that we wanted plans that included no costs to consumers for the first three mental health sessions. We also asked for a $10 copay on the fourth and all future visits. Our first insurance carrier soon realized it was costly to keep track of those three free visits and suggested switching to a zero-dollar copay for all visits. Of course, we accepted!

The good news is that the number of mental health providers accepting insurance in Summit County jumped from seven to 54! That is a stunning accomplishment. We saw similar trends in the other seven counties we served. (With 2024, Peak Health Alliance is also working in Archuleta County for the first time—our ninth county overall).

Mental health is at the forefront of the national conversation—as it should be. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy has identified loneliness as a new public health epidemic. He has connected loneliness to physical ailments such as heart disease, stroke, and dementia. He has also said that mental health challenges are the leading cause of disability and poor life outcomes in young people.

Nationally, the issue of insurance for mental health services remains a significant problem.

In 2020, the Harvard Medical School Primary Care Review reported that an estimated 45 percent of psychiatrists did not accept any form of insurance. A much more significant proportion accepted only a “minimal” set of plans, “making it extremely difficult for patients to find suitable, in-network referrals.”

At Peak, we are proud to have fought for this concept for the communities we serve and we are incredibly extremely thankful that Elevate Health Plans, backed by Denver Health Medical Plans, is keeping this benefit in place.

“One of the values of Peak Health Alliance is that we could be a catalyst for change,” said Claire Brockbank, Chief Executive Officer at Peak Health Alliance from 2020 to 2022. “We could find out what matters on the ground in our communities and address those issues. Large insurance carriers can’t do that—they must do everything by the book. They couldn’t do unique things in Colorado. But I know that when we started doing this in Summit County some of the other carriers competing with us in Summit felt like they had to enhance their benefits, too. So I think it’s hard to understate how important it is to have these, you know, what I would call upstart players.”

Said current CEO Anne Ladd: “We are proud to be an upstart player! And we are proud to bring a plan back to our communities that continues with a zero-dollar copay for mental health services.”

To learn more about Elevate Health Plans—and open enrollment starts on Nov. 1 for the 2024 plan year—visit


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