BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has sent a letter to America's Health Insurance Plans, urging the industry to comply with required mental health services and other mandated consumer benefits.

Coakley sent the letter to AHIP, the national trade association representing the health insurance industry, following several years of legal action against insurance companies that failed to comply with state law. In the letter, Coakley highlighted multiple national carriers that failed to comply with state laws requiring the coverage of necessary mental services.

"Time and time again, our office has identified health insurance carriers that failed to cover critical health benefits for consumers," Coakley said. "Mental health care is as necessary to the proper treatment of many patients as physical health care. While our focus is on ensuring that carriers are offering legally mandated behavioral health coverage in Massachusetts, I also believe mental health services should be offered as part of basic health coverage to veterans and millions of Americans across the country."

Since 2007, Coakley's office has obtained 12 settlements with carriers that allegedly failed to cover mandated health services. Seven of the cases alleged the insurer specifically failed to cover required mental health services and resulted in $5.6 million in payments to consumers and the state.

In April, Coakley's office reached a $625,000 agreement with United States Fire Insurance Company over allegations it sold and marketed unauthorized health insurance policies that failed to cover mandated benefits like mental health, maternity care and preventive care for children up to six years of age.

"Failure to provide coverage of important mandated mental health benefits has a severe and detrimental impact on individuals who need those services, their families, and even their communities," Coakley said.

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