Affordable Care Act and Substance Abuse
Many people are aware of the Affordable Care Act, which is currently being rolled out and will provide, among many other things, assistance to patients who formerly were not able to receive health insurance due to a number of factors, including the person’s income and whether or not they had any pre-existing conditions.
By and large, the act has been designed to help a much larger percentage of people obtain coverage and the ability to receive and pay for quality medical care. One of the most significant ways this act is helping expand coverage is by ensuring that mental health care and treatment for addiction are covered by insurance policies.
Mental Health and Addiction Services as Part of a Total Wellness Program
The Affordable Care Act recognizes that addiction and substance abuse are diseases that require adequate care in the same way that other diseases do. As such, the act mandates that mental health care and treatment for addiction will now be covered as part of any plan that is sold on the American Health Insurance Exchanges must offer coverage for addiction treatment.
This means that there cannot be additional fees or premiums applied for patients who need medical support for their struggle with addiction. It also means that a much higher number of mental health care providers will now be able to offer treatment to patients who had before not been covered by any kind of health insurance policy.
As with many health issues, prevention is often the most effective and cost efficient way of avoiding severe issues or drastic dips in health when it comes to substance abuse. Because many substance abuse problems arise as a result of other mental health issues, like depression or anxiety, access to psychological care can often help prevent instances of substance abuse before they even start. Under the ACA, preventative programs, such as check ups or wellness visits will now be covered. In addition to the expanded coverage offered by ACA, the act also includes funds that have already begun to be put towards educational campaigns designed to raise awareness and offer alternative solutions to using drugs.
Beneficial for Both Patients and Health Care Providers
By expanding coverage and recognizing addiction as a disease that should be treated without additional costs, many more people who are struggling with addiction will be able to seek the care that they need. When a person is not adequately insured, they are far less likely to seek treatment, which means that their condition may become much more severe and may face more serious health risks as a result of their progressed addiction. When health care is available, a person struggling with addiction can get the care they need as early as possible, which means that they will be able to get back to health sooner.
For mental health professionals, expanded coverage means that they will have the opportunity to treat a much higher number of patients, who will now be able to visit them in a timely manner. Coverage for addiction care also means that doctors can expect to have a higher percentage of their accounts paid because patients with care will have many of their costs covered by their health care plans. When patients do not have coverage, they may wait until their addiction reaches a critical point and must receive care, despite the fact that they will have to pay out of pocket for this. Incurring a large medical debt such as this means that many patients at addiction centers may face bills that they are unable to pay, which results in unpaid or underpaid bills.