Child Welfare in the 21st Century

  • August 2013
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The Affordable Care Act and Mental Health

Posted by lboyd544 on August 25, 2013

Whether love or hate it, or more likely something in-between, the ACA (Affordable Care Act) has some great things in it for meeting mental health needs.

The Act builds on the Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act of 2008 to expand mental health and substance use disorder benefits and federal parity protections for more than 60 million Americans. New health plans are now required to cover preventive services like depression screenings for adults and behavioral assessments for children at no additional cost. And starting next year, just like applies to physical illnesses and disabilities, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny health care coverage to anyone because of a pre-existing mental health condition. (Remember how recently you wouldn’t report any sort of ‘depression’ when applying for insurance!)

Oklahoma ranks among the top five states nationally for its rates of mental illness. Access to more services under insurance coverage is much needed in our state. This should help greatly for out patient care. Sadly, Oklahoma is also among the bottom five in terms of state funding budgeted per capita for mental illness, meaning that substance abuse treatment options and in patient services when needed will continue to be very scarce and with long waiting lists.

Oklahoma, and some other states, may not be expanding Medicaid. That means sadly that some who could have qualified for Medicaid and needed services will still go without. However, the prohibition on pre-existing conditions and the requirement for all health plans to offer parity for mental health services apply in all states regardless of their decisions on Medicaid.

Be sure to look into your state Exchange beginning October 1. All states will have one. 85% of Americans will not need to make any changes from the coverage they now have. However, you may just find a deal under the new system that better meets your needs for services and costs. It is worth a look. https://www.healthcare.gov/marketplace/individual

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