ACA tagged posts

Repealing the ACA Could Cause a Mental Health Care Crisis

Jeffrey Harman, PhD
College of Medicine, Florida State University

Care For Your Mind acknowledges and appreciates the collaboration of the National Network of Depression Centers for developing this post.

Our nation’s healthcare system has made impressive progress in the last several years. As a direct result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we’ve reached a record low uninsured rate; the number of unpaid medical bills (or bad debt) has plummeted; and 20 million Americans now have insurance purchased through the ACA marketplace.

But there are imminent threats facing this hard-won progress. Our newly-elected president is staunchly opposed to the ACA. He and congressional Republicans have vowed to repeal Obamacare, with no clear plan for what would replace it.

If they succeed, our country could be facing a health care crisis of unprecedented proportions. Millions of Americans could lose their coverage; hospitals could go bankrupt; people could pay thousands more in out-of-pocket costs.

Is our current healthcare system perfect? Of course not. But it’s a lot better than it was eight years ago, particularly for people living with mental health conditions. We need to continue to improve on what we’ve built, not abandon all progress and attempt to start from scratch.

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What Is the Future of Obamacare?

Health Insurance Photo

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

With Republicans moving into the White House and controlling both houses of Congress, what can the American people expect to happen to “Obamacare” and what impact will that have for those of us living with a mood disorder and our families? If Obamacare collapses, will we have access to mental health care?

Many people are unaware of the connection between mental health parity and Obamacare. Mental health parity became law in 2008, making it illegal for insurance plans to provide different levels of coverage for mental health care as compared to medical/surgical benefits. However, it was the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA); often referred to as “Obamacare” that required all health insurance plans governed by this law to offer mental health coverage in the first place. Until Obamacare, insurance plans could side-step parity by simply not offering mental health coverage. As a new administration gets ready to take charge, many people are asking if they will still have affordable access to insurance plans that provide both physical and mental health coverage.

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Disparity, Not Parity, Describes Mental Health Status and Access in America Today

Paul Gionfriddo
President Mental Health America

That’s the bottom line message in a recent report, entitled Parity or Disparity: The State of Mental Health in America 2015, released by Mental Health America (MHA).

But the good news is that there are plenty of things we can do to change that – if we’re willing to change the way we approach mental illnesses in general.

MHA produced this report because we aren’t satisfied with the narrowness of the policy debate we have been having. It has been too much about public safety and post-crisis intervention, leading to a focus on inappropriate, back end, post-crisis care. These interventions occur long after mental health concerns—if identified and treated early—could be eliminated or mitigated, avoiding crises and tragedies.

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The Clock Is Ticking on the 7 Million Uninsured with Behavioral Health Conditions

Ron Manderscheid

Ron Manderscheid, PhD
Executive Director
National Association of County Behavioral Health & Developmental Disability Directors

Now is the time to help the 7 million uninsured Americans with behavioral health conditions understand their health coverage.

In a recent post, Hannah Sentenac discussed the challenges young adults face accessing mental healthcare. Because many Millennials are choosing job flexibility and self-employment over traditional employment, they are faced with the costly prospect of purchasing their own health insurance; and many have simply chosen to go without. Even for Millennials who have insurance (either employer-sponsored or self-purchased), high co-pays and hefty out-of-network charges have prevented many from obtaining mental health treatment, she states.

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Are Millennials Receiving Adequate Mental Health Coverage?

By: Hannah Sentenac

How hard is it to find the right health insurance, one that covers all of your medical and mental health needs and is affordable? It’s difficult for all of us, but more challenging for some. Now is the open enrollment period for many employer-sponsored health insurance plans, the ACA, and Medicare. Over the next several weeks CFYM will look at a variety of challenges facing different populations, beginning with today’s post on the generation of Millennials. .

Millennials are a lot of things: large in number, highly nontraditional, devotees of the almighty Google. A massive generation, we encompass everyone born between 1980 and 1999, which totals 80 Million+ Americans.

Unfortunately, we’re also a generation suffering from a lot of mental health woes.

Studies show Millennials tend to suffer from higher stress levels and mental health concerns than other generations. A 2013 study by the American Psychological Association and Harris Interactive found that more Millennials have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety than any other living generation, and that we’re more stressed than any other living generation.

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It’s About Mental Health, America

Paul Gionfriddo
President and CEO, Mental Health America

I became President and CEO of Mental Health America on May 1, honored by the opportunity to work with so many wonderful advocates on behalf of people with concern for mental health. At Mental Health America, our goal is:

  • prevention for all
  • early identification and intervention for those at risk
  • integrated health and behavioral health services for those who need them, and
  • recovery as a goal

Changing the treatment paradigm
For too long, policymakers and some advocates have been mired in what I call Stage 4 thinking. They have accepted the largely false premise that mental health concerns and violence are intertwined. They have accepted “imminent danger to self or others” as a standard for diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses.

But as I have said repeatedly, mental illnesses are the only chronic conditions that we treat this way. They are the only chronic conditions where, as a matter of public policy, we wait until Stage 4 to treat, and then often only through incarceration.

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Final Parity Ruling and Obamacare

healthinsurance2Cause for celebration or just one victory in a long-term battle

On November 8, 2013 the Obama administration released the final rule providing guidance on how health insurance plans should implement mental health parity. In short, the rule states that mental health coverage must be equitable to how insurance plans cover other physical conditions. Restrictions accessing care and reimbursement for services can no longer be different for mental health in relation to other health care services. Additionally the ACA, more popularly known as Obamacare, requires that mental health coverage be included as an essential health benefit for plans available through the market exchange.  In short, as of January 1, 2014 private, marketplace exchange and Medicaid Expansion plans must offer mental health care and it must be with parity.

Much has been written about the ruling. Most of it positive. Bloomberg BNA states advocates are praising the rule. The National Council applauds the ruling saying it is “a huge victory for people living with mental health needs and for the nation as a whole.

CFYM has covered the topic in past blogs and has provided instructions on how to fight for your coverage rights by challenging an insurance claim denial. Carol McDaid of the Parity Implementation Coalition posted on September 19 that now is the time to become an informed, empowered, and vocal consumer. There is much work still to be done to ensure the civil rights and protection of people living with a mental health condition when it comes to access, however.

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Labor Day Thoughts on Mental Health Policy and the Workforce

Care for Your Mind

young woman in computer lab

As we return from the Labor Day holiday and our annual tribute to the contributions of workers to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country, it’s fitting to take a quick look at mental health policy issues for employees. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) presented new opportunities for people to receive mental health care from their employer-provided health coverage. The Mental Health Parity law attempts to level the field between medical/surgical health care and care for mental health and substance use disorders, while the ACA aims to open access to affordable health care, including behavioral health care services, for more people. Both of these laws come into play, in part, through employees’ health insurance benefits.

Fewer people are getting health insurance through work.

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