An often overlooked aspect of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) is that mental health coverage in America will be vastly improved. This is good news for the 1 in 4 Americans who suffer from mental illness.
Mental health issues, including depression, are considered pre-existing conditions by insurance companies. Some insurance companies deny coverage to “high risk” patients based on their mental health conditions. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 attempted to fix this issue by requiring employers to offer psychiatric services. However, the law only applied to larger companies and also provided numerous loopholes for companies to receive exemption. In addition, the law was far from universal, meaning that millions of Americans with mental health issues were left uncovered.
Obamacare promises to fill in all of the holes that were left by the 2008 law. Insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition, meaning that mental health will be completely covered. It is estimated that 32 million Americans will receive mental health treatment for the first time.
Secondly, the ACA requires that mental health treatments offered by insurance companies be of equal quality to the surgical and other medical treatments that are offered by the insurance companies. This is intended to insure that mental health treatments be of good quality.
The ACA also requires that prescription drugs be at least partially covered by insurance companies. Patients who are paying too much for their mental health prescriptions will benefit from lower costs.
Finally, in a very interesting study, researchers in Oregon found that people with access to insurance are 30% less likely to develop depression than people who are not insured. The exact reason for this phenomenon is still uncertain, but some of the researchers believe that it could be due to the fact that people with insurance are less likely to become stressed out about getting sick and paying for their treatments.
Although the Affordable Care Act remains one of the most controversial pieces of legislation during Barack Obama’s presidency, patients with mental health disorders can take heart knowing that their insurance coverage should be expanded. And of course, the Discount Drug Network prescription discount card can always help to save money on prescription drugs, including mental health drugs.