How the battle over the Affordable Care Act affects mental health treatment
Every day, it seems as though politicians have found yet another reason to squabble over the Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as “Obamacare.” People who struggle with substance addiction and/or mental illness might want to pay special attention to these squabbles, since the outcome can affect the availability — and the affordability — of their health care.
Positive effects on mental health treatment
One of the reasons why the Affordable Care Act was implemented was to make mental health treatment more accessible for the American population. According to a 2011 analysis, more than 60 percent of adults with a diagnosable mental illness and 70 percent of children did not receive proper treatment.
Thankfully, the passage of the Affordable Care Act has led to numerous changes that have made it easier for individuals to receive mental health care, for instance:
Pre-existing conditions are now covered. Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, having a pre-existing condition — for instance, cancer — could negatively impact your ability to receive medical insurance. Mental health disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia were also classified as pre-existing conditions, as were substance use disorders. Now that these conditions are covered, individuals who struggle with them can more easily receive care
Insurance plans must cover both mental and physical illnesses. The Affordable Care Act added a much needed update to the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, requiring insurance companies to offer the same amount of coverage for mental health and substance use disorders as they would for medical or surgical procedures. In other words, individuals with mental illness no longer need to struggle to find an insurance plan that will actually view their condition for what it is: a disease
Teens and young adults are covered by their parents. Under the Affordable Care Act, teens and young adults can remain under their parents’ insurance plan until they are 26 years old. Mental illness and substance abuse issues often emerge during these tumultuous adolescent years. By allowing parents to cover their children during these at-risk years, Obamacare makes it easier to treat mental illness early and effectively
The Medicaid gap
Unfortunately, the Affordable Care Act is still far from perfect. Loopholes within the health care act have prevented many patients from receiving help through Medicaid, the government health insurance program for poor or disabled Americans. In many states — including Florida, Texas and Virginia — the uninsured rates remain high and individuals still need to struggle for mental health treatment.
Yet the tides are shifting. Gradually, more and more Republicans are coming out in favor of a Medicaid expansion that will solve this issue. Expect more debates, more arguments and more newspaper articles in the future. So far, however, the future of Obamacare — and mental health coverage — seems bright.
Here at the Sovereign Health Group, we recognize mental illness and substance addiction for what they are: brain diseases. Our employees pride themselves on following “The Sovereign Way,” a treatment technique in which we focus on the complex interplay between drugs, mental health and the environment. We leave no stone unturned when it comes to diagnosing and treating every patient. Sovereign accepts most insurance. For more information, please contact our 24/7 helpline.
Written by Courtney Lopresti, M.S. neuroscience, Sovereign Health Group writer