Starting in 2014, the Affordable Care Act (sometimes referred to as Obamacare) will begin to take effect. A comprehensive summary of the entire Act can be found here, but here’s a quick overview of some of the changes that will take place:
- Comprehensive and accessible treatment options
- Coverage for pre-existing conditions
- No more dropped coverage due to illness
- More access to preventative care
- Restrictions on lifetime and annual limits
- Coverage for young adults under parents’ plan until age 26
- More access to Medicaid**
Affordable Care Act & Mental Health
- There will be increased coverage for mental health services. About20% of people who currently have insurance receive no benefits for treatment of mental illnesses. Treatment, certain prevention services and screening for mental health issues (including substance abuse) will also be covered under the Affordable Care Act.
- Those who are uninsured or underinsured are now able to get coverage. Mental health issues or disorders have previously been a barrier to receiving or affording coverage, as it could be considered a pre-existing condition. After the Affordable Care Act takes effect, pre-existing conditions can no longer factor in availability or cost of coverage.
- Funding for mental health services and centers will increase. The Affordable Care act also mandates that funding for community mental health centers will increase by $11 billion over the next five years, which includes expanding both preventative and behavioral health services. A portion of this funding will also be dedicated to renovation of existing community health centers or the construction of new centers.
- People will now have the opportunity to designate “health homes”. Those who are eligible for Medicaid will be able to assign health homes, which are medical homes for people who have a serious, chronic condition that may require extended care. The goal of these health homes is to integrate all aspects of a person’s care in a way that promotes comprehensive wellness.