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September 26, 2012

Affordable Health Care Act Helps Individuals with Mental Illness

Though the Affordable Health Care Act is controversial, we felt it was important to point out the significant benefits people with a mental illness will now have. This article does not represent a position on the legislation. It can be difficult for people with a mental illness to find affordable, quality insurance coverage.

Estimates show that one-fifth to one-third of the uninsured in the U.S. are people with mental illness and substance abuse disorders. The Affordable Health Care Act takes steps to change this situation:

  • One of the act's most significant components is prohibiting the exclusion of people with a pre-existing illness from medical coverage.
  • It allows young people to remain on their parents' insurance until they are 26. The majority of mental illnesses have developed by age 24, so this change will allow for early treatment.
  • The act grants an estimated 3.7 million more people with severe mental illness access to care through provisions to expand Medicaid, subsidize private insurance for those who are ineligible for Medicaid and require employers to offer insurance.

At Hopewell, we know that people can recover from mental illness and that treatment works, but only if you receive it. As Dr. Dilip V. Jeste, president of the American Psychiatric Association, stated, "This law has the potential to change the course of life for psychiatric patients for the better."

*Source: Richard A. Friedman, M.D., "Good News for Mental Illness in Health Law." The New York Times, July 10, 2012

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