Mental Health Care gets a Shot in the Arm


The Patient Protection and the Affordable Care Act initiated by President Obama has been changed recently to make mental health care more accessible to Americans who need psychiatric treatment. Unfortunately, I had such a hard time understanding the difference between the original plan for mental health care and the present one, that I nearly went “bonkers,” so I have copied much of the info about it from psychcentral.com, a blog by John M. Grohol, psychiatrist.

People will no longer be denied coverage based upon their pre-existing condition, such as ADHD, anxiety, depression or Bipolar Disorder.

Prior to this rule, changing employers or insurance providers often meant having to pretend that a pre-existing psychiatric diagnosis didn’t exist. The new law says that you can’t discriminate against a person because of a pre-existing condition. This means that more people will get the mental health care they need and have it covered by their insurance plan. It also means an insurance plan can’t cancel your coverage for a pre-existing condition, something that was problematic for many in the past.

While the Affordable Care Act includes coverage for the treatment of both mental and substance abuse disorders at equal levels to treatment for physical concerns, limits can and still are placed on such treatments. The limits are more lax than they were perhaps under the older system, but people still do not have access to “unlimited” psychotherapy treatments. Insurance companies still require therapists to obtain authorization for additional treatments after a certain number of sessions has been reached (which varies from insurance company to company).

So, in a nutshell, we will want to make the most of each visit to the shrink of our choice.

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