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You Should Think About Using Your Health Insurance’s Mental Health Services

Mental health is no longer the taboo topic that it once was, and thanks to changes in health insurance law, mental health care is now more accessible than ever.

If one thing has changed in American healthcare over the last 10 years, aside from the emergence and acceptance of the Affordable Care Act, it has been our society’s increased acceptance of mental health services as an important part of healthcare.

Health Insurance For Mental Health

In decades past, mental health support was seen as something taboo, and was probably joked about in movies and tv shows more than it was taken seriously. Many people saw mental health services as something for “rich people” and “crazy people”, and in reality, these services were out of reach for most people. Mental health professionals were hard to find, and many health insurance plans did not support mental health services, so people had to pay out-of-pocket to access these services, making them unaffordable to much of the population.

The Laws That Changed Everything
Biden Signs Executive Order for ACA
President Obama and then-Vice President Biden in office in the early 2010’s. “Obamacare” marked a major national shift in access to mental health services.

In 1996, access to mental health coverage began to shift with the introduction of the Mental Health Parity Act. The Mental Health Parity Act, or MHPA for short, and its later relative, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, stated that employer-sponsored health insurance had to include mental health coverage, and insinuated that health insurance companies should treat mental health coverage as equal to other parts of medical coverage.

These laws proved to be a double-edged sword. On the positive end, they did help provide mental health benefits for people who did not have access to it before. The drawbacks were that there was no protection for those who had mental health issues as a pre-existing condition, so insurance companies could use mental health screenings as a reason to deny people. Also these laws did nothing to cover the millions of low-income people who didn’t have health plans, who (statistically speaking) were likely to be more in need of mental health services.

The Affordable Care Act

When the Affordable Care Act was introduced in 2010, it marked an even greater shift in the way Americans could access mental health care. At the time, the opioid crisis was peaking in America, and treatment was now seen as the morally correct way to address the issue (as opposed to jail time). A wide-ranging solution was needed.

The introduction of the Affordable Care Act provided a worthwhile solution. Mental health support was one of Obamacare’s original “10 essential services“, meaning that all health plans on the public healthcare marketplace had to include coverage for mental health services, and people could not be denied for pre-existing mental health issues. In addition, Medicaid and Medicare began covering mental health services as well. This was important because it set a precedent for health plans outside of the public marketplace to do the same in order to remain competitive. That being said, even 10 years later, mental health support is one of the most underused parts of health insurance.

What Type of Mental Health Services Does Health Insurance Cover?

Although the cost and extent of support available varies by plan, there are certain services that must be offered by every plan under the Affordable Care Act standard. They are as follows:

  • Behavioral Treatment (for example psychotherapy and counseling):
    • Outpatient individual counseling or group therapy sessions
    • Diagnostic services such as psychological evaluation and testing services
    • Ongoing outpatient treatment, including medication management and psychiatric treatment programs
  • Substance abuse (also known as substance use disorder) treatment:
    • Outpatient diagnostic and treatment services for chemical or alcohol dependency
    • Medical services for withdrawal symptoms, such as inpatient detoxification services
    • Substance use disorder recovery services, including counseling and educational resources
  • Mental and behavioral health inpatient services
    • Mental health care if you’re admitted to a psychiatric facility.
  • Additional provisions for preventative care
    • There are preventative care services in the ACA that pertain to mental health, such as depression and alcohol abuse screenings.

Once again, this is just a baseline; it is best to check with your health insurance provider to see exactly what services are provided via your plan.

Do You Need A Health Insurance Plan That Covers Mental Health Services?

If you think you need mental health services and don’t have health insurance, don’t fret. HealthPlanOptionsToday can help you find a plan that will get you started on the road toward wellness. Call us at 888-375-8879 for more information, or click the button below and we’ll get in touch with you.

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President Trump Tries to Bypass Obamacare

Never in my life did I ever think I would hear the following words: “The president’s support for killing Obamacare during the coronavirus pandemic shows a callous disregard for communities in crisis” (Jonathan Metzl, 2020). To catch up, the Affordable Health Care Act has been around for about a decade under President Obama’s decision to make it mandatory for Americans to all have health insurance. Though half of uninsured Americans denied themselves of potential coverage, the other half embraced it! It was a breath of fresh air to many who were without affordable health insurance.

But things change, and politics rule.

Now, in the midst of crisis and a pandemic we cannot seem to stop, President Trump has decided to call Obamacare a “disaster,” and said he wished to “terminate it.” This is not completely in context. Many Americans were (and still are) upset about being forced to pay a fine given they did not have the right coverage (Kaiser, 2020). It is a dual-edged sword: Americans did not embrace the ACA, but now that we need it the most it makes the most sense to use it. You would think this would lead to better health coverage, but that is not the case. Obamacare enrollment skyrocketed since Trump became President. But Trump has decided that now, of all times, is a good place to end the system.

Backing up to May 2020, Trump began the process of getting rid of the necessity of Obamacare, but in a time when Americans can barely afford the premiums, it seems as if the Affordable Healthcare Act is, as of now, quite useless. But the time and place to cancel this ethereal part of our history, in my opinion, is where the “wrong” begins. Aside from personal opinions and political orientations, let us examine this factually.

First, some statistics. 33 percent of White Americans (as of 2010) were without proper health coverage; 33 percent of Hispanics; and 20 percent for Black Americans. This accounts for a tremendous 46.5 million people who currently do not have the proper health coverage. This is ironically 18 percent of the nonelderly population.

 Then, the ACA began.

By 2016, 90 percent of Black Americans had health care, as one example, and many people claimed to have paid much less for prescriptions, to have less medical debt, and in turn, more security when something goes wrong. However, despite this progress, the Trump administration has spent three long years trying to eliminate it. Speculations are amidst. Many claim that it is a way of ridding us of the Obama era; others feel it is simply Trump’s way of cutting funds to a crucial problem.

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However, despite political boundaries, the main issue is not “why” we are cutting it. Rather, it is a question of: “what happens when it is cut?” The main issue seemed to be the cutting of advertising the program. Since Trump’s induction, there has been a 79 percent drop in community outreach, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. In other words, though the ACA still exists, and most likely will continue to exist (one can only amend so much), the fact is many Americans have forgotten – especially in the midst of a pandemic – that Obamacare is an option. So, what happened last week?

The Trump administration “urged the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act.” Ironically, it was the same day that half a million Americans lost health insurance due to the economic shutdown, of which was meant to slow the COVID-19 spread. 20 million Americans can and have lost their health coverage, and according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “If President Trump gets his way, 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions will lose the ACA’s lifesaving protections and 23 million Americans will lose their health coverage entirely.”

Sound bad? Well, it really is.

When this case approached the Supreme Court, many conservative-led states did make their point that the ACA was “unconstitutional,” where fines are issued for not having proper health insurance. What many do not realize is, that was not meant to harm the American public. Rather, it was a way to incentivize the notion that without health insurance, one is subjected to potentially thousands of dollars during a routine visit. In turn, it was not meant to “punish” us, but rather to motivate us!

With due respect, Trump is not the monster they are making him out to be. However, he certainly is not making the health insurance game any easier. With so many Americans affected by the coronavirus, the loss of millions of jobs, and God knows what else, it seems the last thing we should be doing is cutting down on affordable care. Despite this, Trump has made sure we all know that those with preexisting conditions (i.e. an illness or a health issue that was made prior to the actual insurance policy) will still be protected, but how? That is the question many are currently asking, as though it was announced that Obamacare would be seeing changes, no mention of how to redeem its loss have come into earshot, leaving many stressed and without help.

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Now, the good news is since the loss of millions of jobs, around 487,000 people have been wise enough to sign up with HealthCare.gov, after the loss of workplace overage. It is a drastic increase of 46 percent since last year, and all we can do at this point is hope that an appeal is missed, or an executive order is ignored. Otherwise, the realm of health insurance will never quite be the same – if we allow it, that is. We can only hope…