The Affordable Health Care Act, also referred to as Obamacare or ACA, is no doubt one of the most controversial pieces of legislation to be passed through Congress. The Affordable Health Care Act was even brought to the Supreme Court for validation after numerous attempts to repeal it. However, this debate could have taken away the focus on a group of people that could benefit from ACA: those who need mental health treatment. My work as a mental health counselor in training has exposed me to some of the benefits.
Mental Health Pre-existing Conditions
As a mental health counselor who has worked for non-profits, I have dealt with clients that needed key psychotropic medications to keep them stable for treatment. The economy reduced their incomes and limited them to part time work. Some could not afford paying full price for medications because they had pre-existing conditions that limited their insurance options. Imagine having a Bipolar Disorder diagnosis and having to ration your anti-depressant medications to get through the winter. The Affordable Health Care Act allows clients like them to get insurance, which led to keeping their medication prescriptions full.
Essential Benefits Package
Sometimes mental health disorders like bipolar disorder or PTSD have a comorbid diagnosis of substance abuse that’s derived from the original diagnosis. It does no good to treat one condition without addressing the other, but insured clients can be limited because they have no coverage for both. ACA addresses that by making mental health and substance disorder services as part of the essential benefits package.
Mental Health Treatment For Young Adults
Insurance companies can stop coverage for your children when they turn 18. This limits treatment for college-bound kids once they step foot in the classroom. But what if your college-age kid was being treated for a severe mental health disorder? He would only be limited to what the school has to offer, and those levels of treatment greatly vary from school to school. Some schools are limited to on-site crisis counseling but can’t provide psychiatric care unless it involves emergency transport to a mental health institution. Now that ACA allows for coverage until your child turns 26, he can see counselors outside of the school and be covered for treatment.
Medicaid Health Home
I once treated an older client who had the beginning stages of dementia. His dementia affected his judgment and we tried to get him into a senior home for care. While we waited for the home to open up, his dementia got worse and he had no way to get treated. He left our facility one night and wasn’t to be found. ACA created the Medicaid Health Home program so that seniors with chronic conditions that limited their travel could get better treatment at home. I imagine how things would have turned out if my client could have had home-based treatment.