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American Health Care Act: What’s in store for people with mental problems, addiction?

Posted on 03-14-17 in Mental Health

As the Republicans look all set to repeal the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, people are expectedly nervy and anxious to know their benefits and rights from the proposed new health care bill, known as American Health Care Act. As conjectures fly, people are apprehensive that the new health care act may ruffle the benefits they have been reaping so far.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that the proposed legislation would strip an additional 24 million people in the United States of insurance cover by 2026. It is still to get the presidential nod and pass the House and the Senate.

People are keen to know whether this new health care policy would safeguard their interests, giving out all benefits the Obamacare ensures. So far, this is the only act viewed as a perfect replacement for the Obamacare, even when mental health treatment programs are taken into consideration.

Another important aspect the Americans would want to know is that what this bill would bring on to the table when it comes to mental health treatment centers and rehabs for substance use problems. The country has witnessed a continued rise in various mental problems and co-existing substance use disorder, with the opioid addiction becoming an epidemic.

Broadly speaking, the proposed American Health Care Act will influence three major aspects concerning people with mental health challenges, which are as below:

1. Insurance companies should still cover mental health conditions, but those by State Medicaid plans might go.

In congruence with the 2015 Obamacare, which created and implemented the “10 essential health benefits” encompassing mental health problems and addiction treatment, the insurance companies are still obliged to cover these essential benefits. All the plans these companies offer in the individual marketplaces are here to stay under the American Health Care Act. However, by 2020, the new act would absolve the states from covering the “10 essential benefits” for people insured under Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. These people would have to shell out from their pocket to avail services like addiction treatment or drugs for reversing the effects of overdosing when insured.

2. The new act would stall Obamacare and adversely affect those with an addiction problem, especially involving substances like heroin and prescription painkillers.

Unlike Obamacare, which provided respite to millions of Americans under its ambit through Medicaid as their states opted for the expansion, the new act would tighten the noose and make it difficult for new enrollees from 2020. There would be other complex rules pertaining to availing benefits when there is a gap between policies. For people opting for opioid misuse treatment, these norms would become stringent, according to addiction care experts.

3. Mental health diagnosis to benefit as the new act proposes to bar insurance companies from discriminating and do a volte-face on pre-existing conditions.

As an estimated 1.3 million Americans are enjoying benefits related to mental health and substance use disorder through Medicaid expansion, any changes made to these rules would mean disheveling their lives and jeopardizing their treatment. One thing about the American Health Care Act that is in unison with Obamacare is a total ban on pre-existing condition. Hence, behavioral health disorder, which is the most common pre-existing condition that insurance companies want to disassociate with and charge high premiums to cover, is taken care of under these acts.

The crux is, under the aegis of American Health Care Act, a bevy of protections would continue to exist, and the 43 million U.S. adults with some mental health condition would heave a sigh of relief. However, those covered under Medicaid may stand to lose in the bargain. The mental health patients with low income may also lose some important coverage under this new act.

Dealing with mental health and addiction problems

Mental health conditions need immediate attention, lest symptoms may exacerbate rendering it difficult to treat. If you have a loved one struggling with any behavioral health problem and you are scouting for mental health treatment centers, reach out to Sovereign Health at 866-754-3385 for an immediate assistance. Our experts can guide you with the best mental health treatment programs suitable for you or your loved one.


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