Nearly 23 million Americans suffer from alcohol or drug addiction, but only two million are receiving treatment for it. In many cases, this is due to a lack of treatment options or an inability to afford those services. But with the provisions made under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) to both provide and expand options for treatment, more Americans than ever will have a better shot at beating addiction.
It Pays to Understand the Details of ObamaCare
“There is no illness currently being treated that will be more affected by the Affordable Care Act than addiction,” said Tom McLellan, CEO of the nonprofit Treatment Research Institute and Obama’s former deputy drug czar.
“That’s because we have a system of treatment that was built for a time when they didn’t understand that addiction was an illness.”
Although many people have questions about the effectiveness of the ACA after the infamously difficult sign-up period in late 2013, it provides more options than ever for covered rehab expenses. Here are five ways that the ACA will help keep your inpatient and outpatient treatment costs down.
#1 Substance Abuse Treatment is Now a Priority
The ACA has included substance abuse disorders as one of their 10 elements of essential health benefits. In other words, Medicaid and any other form of coverage sold through Health Insurance Exchanges must include services for substance abuse. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 also requires health insurance plans to provide mental health and substance abuse disorder benefits that are comparable to the medical and surgical care provided under the same plan.
#2 Greater Access to Healthcare for Everyone
An estimated 47 million Americans went without health insurance in 2012.An estimated 47 million Americans went without health insurance in 2012, but many of these same people now have access to medical coverage via the expansion of Medicaid and low-cost insurance through Health Insurance Exchanges.
States that accept federal money allocated by the ACA will be able to expand their Medicaid coverage to people living below and, in some cases, even slightly above the federal poverty line.
#3 Substance Abuse Won’t Deter Coverage
Despite being recognized as a disease, substance abuse coverage has traditionally been denied or offered only in the most dire situations.
“If diabetes were treated like substance abuse, only people in the most advanced stages of illness would be covered, such as those who had already lost their vision or had severe kidney damage,” said McLellan.
The new ObamaCare legislation forbids insurers from denying coverage to people due to pre-existing conditions – including substance abuse. Estimates from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department predict the inclusion of pre-existing ailments will give 32 million Americans the new ability to access substance abuse treatment and mental health services, in addition to expanding benefits in these fields for an additional 31 million Americans.
#4 Young Adults Can Remain On Parent’s Health Plan
Under ObamaCare, any young adult – up to age of 26 – can now receive coverage under a parent’s health insurance plan. Since data has proven that nearly 7 percent of all young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 have a substance abuse disorder, this expanded addiction treatment coverage is particularly significant.
…nearly 7 percent of all young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 have a substance abuse disorder.
#5 Many Screenings And Referrals Will Be Free
Those with Medicaid, Medicare or health plans under the Health Insurance Marketplaces can receive free mental health and alcohol screenings. These are listed as “preventive” services and come at no cost under the ACA.
Learn more about substance abuse treatment and insurance coverage.
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