So, what’s up with Obamacare and mental health? What changes will there be for those seeking counseling or inpatient services? According to the White House:
The Affordable Care Act builds on the Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act 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, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny health care coverage to anyone because of a pre-existing mental health condition.
Serena Gordon, writing on WebMD, reports that about 32 million will be able to newly access new mental health and/or substance abuse benefits. In addition, improved parity will mean that one’s coverage should be comparable to that offered for medical and surgical kinds of treatment.
Other helpful changes regarding Obamacare and mental health include the following:
- Extended coverage for young people—not only no denials based on pre-existing conditions but also the ability of young adults to stay on their parents’ poliices until the age of 26.
- An end to annual or lifetime limits on the amount insurers will pay for mental health and substance use disorders.
- More financial help for those whose annual income is between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level. Some applicants will also qualify for a tax credit when purchasing an individual policy through the new state-run insurance exchanges.
- Medicaid coverage expands to include anyone living at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty line (close to $16,000 for a single person). States, however, will vary on how this is administered.
Making all the anticipation more difficult, of course, is the seriously frustrating Obamacare website problem, which may unintentionally and ironically be adding to people’s anxiety, frustration level, and need for mental health services.
Below, from Saturday Night Live‘s most recent episode (Oct. 26th), is a spoof of the website issue. It features Kate McKinnon (incidentally, SNL‘s first openly lesbian cast member) as Kathleen Sibelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services.