Where Obamacare falls short with mental health

Mental health in America has become less of an obscure topic in the last 5 years. Yet the increases in violence to ourselves and others, suicides, and drug addiction are accessories to nearly 43 million people going without treatment. The Affordable Care Act prepared a platform for further developments by requiring all health insurance plans to hold behavioral and drug abuse treatment to the same terms as any other kind of care. As a result, a large portion of the 20 million people now insured because of Obamacare were living with a mental illness and have previously been denied coverage because of their preexisting “condition”. This rule has been in place since 2010, but poor enforcement of these laws has gone from “weak to nonexistent,” says Politico reporter Brianna Ehley.

Politico reported that 20-year-old Anthony of Virginia was covered under his mother’s insurance. After receiving a court order to see in-network inpatient treatment for substance abuse he was forced to do so in a facility in California. Once the bills started coming in, his insurers classified his treatment as unnecessary. Now he and his family are faced to pay the costs in full as well as seek further treatment. Cases like this one set the precedent that coverage doesn’t always mean care.

The stigma behind mental illness is the most obvious thing people acknowledge as to why so many still go untreated. However, the shortage of psychiatrists and behavioral health specialists plays a key role in the struggle to find in-network care. Just 55% of specialists accept private insurance mainly due to excessive paperwork and low reimbursement for doctors. With the good that Obamacare has done, many of its holes affect mental heath coverage.

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