Under the Affordable Care Act, mental health and substance abuse services are covered as essential health benefits. All plans must cover behavioral health treatment (counseling, psychotherapy), mental and behavioral health inpatient services and substance use disorder treatment. Your specific health benefits depend on the state you live in and the health plan you choose. However, this could all change in 2020 if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is replaced with a different type of coverage.
What is Being Proposed for 2020?
Starting in 2020, a new plan being proposed would eliminate an Affordable Care Act requirement. This requirement makes it mandatory for Medicaid to cover mental health and substance abuse services in the states that have expanded it. With the new plan, however, states would have the choice to include the benefits in the Medicaid plans. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have all chosen to expand Medicaid under the ACA.
Under the Medicaid expansion, over 1.3 million people have received treatment for mental health and substance abuse disorders. This is care that is highly needed in our country, as a record number of people have been overdosing on opiates. In 2015, 33,000 people died from opiate overdoses, a number that surpasses car accidents and gun-related homicides.
Which States Will Be Most Affected?
While states from coast to coast have felt the effects of opiate abuse, the 15 counties with the highest death rates from heroin are in Kentucky and West Virginia. Both states chose to expand Medicaid coverage, and taking this away would affect tens of thousands of rural Americans. Furthermore, cutting out these programs during an epidemic could lead to an increase in diseases such as hepatitis C and HIV.
At this time, there’s already a shortage of addiction treatment programs to serve the needs of Americans. To think that these programs could be reduced in the next few years is unsettling. Some communities could be left crushed, especially in lower income populations. Only time will tell, as many things are being proposed at this time. If there is a full repeal of ACA, nearly 2.8 million people would be without coverage – 222,000 with an opioid disorder.
Getting Help Today is Crucial
What does all of this mean right now?
If you or someone close to you is struggling with a mental health condition, addiction or both, do not delay in getting professional treatment. Knowing that you may have better coverage available to you today should give you the motivation to take advantage of your treatment options. It’s very possible that in a few years, it will be more difficult to get rehabilitation.
If you would like to learn more about your options for treatment and what your insurance will cover, call The River Source and speak with our admissions department. We’ll be happy to help!