Pondering the ACA Act: More on Mental Health Coverage

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, established in 2010, requires health plans that offer mental health and substance abuse services to do so in an equal fashion to their medical services (LATimes.com/business 5-11-14). The Affordable Care Act (ACA) reuiqres health plans to include mental health and substance abuse services as one of the 10 essential health benefits that all insurers selling plans are now obligated to provide. The good news is that people will see benefits for these services improve. The bad news is it will not happen quickly.

It will take time for mental health and substance abuse to gain true equity in a health system that treated them as outsiders or afterthoughts. It’s a bit like turning the Titanic. It cannot be done quickly. As you look for these services, be sure to determine the coverage providers you are given actually take new patients. Also beware of substance programs offering “quick and totally cured care.” There is no such thing. Substance abuse is a chronic care condition. There are groups developing resources on how to select programs. Keep your eyes open and be watchful as you select mental health and substance abuse programs to be sure you get what you are now entitled to!

Posted by Susan Odegaard Turner- MentorRN

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