Implicationsfor Mental Health Illness and Substance Abuse under the Obamacare
Mentalhealth and substance abuse are important issues in the Americansociety. Although they are healthy problems, they have been neglectedin the health care system. Mental problems and substance addictionare generally considered to be social problems rather than healthcare problems. A significant percentage of Americans suffer or havesuffered from a medical problem. The recent health care reforms underthe Obamacare have a huge implication on mental health and substanceabuse (Lehman, 2015).
The“Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010” has resultedin comprehensive healthcare reforms in the United States. It iscommonly known as Obamacare or “Affordable Care Act”. Thereforms were developed by President Obama administration with an aimof improving service delivery in the United States healthcare system.It resulted in a major overhaul and touched on all aspects of thesystem. A major aspect of the ACA is increasing health insurancecoverage through private and public funded insurance programs. Theexpanded coverage will increase the quality and affordability ofhealth insurance which would directly impact on the cost of medicalcare services to both the government and the individuals (Press,2013). However, the law has been faced with controversies andchallenges. For example, the individual mandate in the act waschallenged in the Supreme Court. Additionally, the role and authorityof the states government in the administration of Medicaid programunder the new law has been a contentious issue. The court has ruledthat the federal government has no legal authority to forceindividual states to expand the Medicaid programs based on Obamacareprovisions. Some critics of the law have also argued the law does notsignificantly improve the accessibility of health insurance in thecountry (Press, 2013). Nonetheless, there are provisions in Obamacarethat have implications on mental health and substance abuse.
Theattitudes towards mental health and drug addiction in the health caresystem have changed significantly in the last few years. Some ofthese changes have been attributed to the provisions of theObamacare. This has resulted into increased accessibility of mentalhealth services in the health care system. The most importantimplication of the Obamacare on mental health is increasing healthbenefits to mentally ill patients resulting into increased parity.Additionally, there is an increase in the pool of individuals coveredby both public and private health insurance programs. In addition toincreasing the finances available in financing medical services, thishas increased the number of patients assessing quality and affordablehealth care. An increased number of mental health patients are ableto access medical care services due to the direct impacts of thesechanges. Another important aspect of the Obamacare that has an impacton mental health is the value-based health care. The health carereforms have introduced incentives in the health care that enhanceintegration resulting into value-based health care (Lehman, 2015).
Despitethe huge impacts of the Obamacare in the health care system which hasincreased accessibility of mental health services, it does notresolve all the issues in the health care system. The health caresystem is faced with a wide range of challenges which need to beaddressed administratively or through changes in the law. Based onthe new provisions of the Obamacare, private and public insuranceprograms are mandated to cover preexisting conditions. Consequently,persons with documented history of mental illnesses such asschizophrenia or drug addiction can access health insurance coveragewithout discrimination. In addition, the law has increased parity inthe insurance plans where both physical health and mental health arecovered equality. Previous laws did not mandate private insuranceprograms to cover mental health (Press, 2013). For example, if aninsurance program covers a particular number of physical healthproblems, it should provide the same coverage to mental health anddrug addiction problems. The accessibility of mental health servicesis further promoted by the ‘out of pocket’ spending ceilings.Obamacare limits the amount an individual or family spends ‘out ofpocket’ on mental health. Another major contribution to the mentalhealth is coverage of prescription drugs. This is an advantage tomental health patients who depends on prescription drugs. Overall,the Obamacare has increased the accessibility of professional helpfor mental ill patients in the society (Press, 2013).
Inconclusion, mental health and drug addiction has been neglected orignores in the American health care system for many years. This isprobably due to the fact that mental problems are considered to besocial problems rather than health problems. As a result, theprevalence of mental health and drug addiction problems in theAmerican society has increased significantly. The health care systemreforms under Obamacare have introduced provisions that increase theaccessibility of mental health care services. This includes increasedinsurance coverage, improved parity and increased accessibility tohealth care services. Most importantly, the expanded coverage formentally ill individuals by eliminating discrimination in insurancecoverage based on preexisting conditions has had a huge contribution.
Lehman,A. (2015). The Impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable CareAct on Mental Health Practices. Journalof Nervous & Mental Disease.203(12), pp 889-890.
Press,Z. (2013). ObamaCareSimplified A Clear Guide to Making ObamaCare Work for You.Berkeley: Zephyros Press.