Mental health issues and substance abuse disorders have not been the issues of high medical care priority in American healthcare system. However, recently adopted legislation, the Affordable Care Act of 2010, contributes to addressing substance abuse disorders and mental health treatment. This essay will first describe the historical issues of mental health and substance abuse services and discuss how the Affordable Care Act(ACA) helps to improve them. The final part of the essay will summarize the changes brought by ACA.
Mental health and substance abuse services were not always included in a health insurance because there was no special medical therapy available and the tools for treatment were limited. Over the past decades, these diseases were considered incurable. Most of the mental health hospitals were overloaded. People with substance abuse issues usually tended to have problems in personal life or even were involved in criminal cases; that is why such a disease was not addressed by a healthcare system (McLaughlin, 2015). Society had not recognized a threat of behavioral issues. Recently, the attitude to the behavioral health related problems has changed and significant improvements were provided to the American healthcare delivery system.
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The most important thing in the treatment of mental illness and substance abuse is to understand the process of various reactions in the human brain. A research conducted at Northwestern University developed special biomarkers, which can identify clinical depression through the blood test. Despite the fact that the field of science of brain physiology has seen great achievements, many physicians still believe that the most efficient treatment of substance abuse and mental health is the appropriate combination of special medications in the promptness with social supports.
The Affordable Care Act is built in such a way as to improve health care delivery and its quality. The health care reform was designed to make available insurance coverage at the expense of Medicaid. Federal funding allows people who previously did not fit the criteria now have the access to the Medicaid. It means that the person’s income was too high or, for example, it was a non-disabled person. In order to make people participate in a newly adopted program, it is mandatory for citizens to obtain a health insurance (Buck, 2011). This means that if a person is not under the coverage of insurance, he must either sign up for Medicaid or purchase health insurance.
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Almost 90 percent of the 23 million people starting from the age of 12 years needed treatment for alcohol abuse problem and did not receive appropriate medical care in the United States in 2012 (Ghitza et al., 2014). Undertreated substance disorders still are a pressing problem. In 2011, 45.6 million adults were diagnosed with either substance abuse or mental health disorders according to the National Alliance of the Mentally Illness. Before the adoption of ACA, 24% of the U.S. adults with mental illness were uninsured (Ogundipe et al., 2015). Nowadays, patients with the signs of mental health disorders have an opportunity to get health insurance with cost-effective plans. Health plans include some benefits for people with substance abuse and mental illness. In addition, insurance will cover all extra services if needed. The general idea is that the new services for substance abuse and mental health treatment cannot require additional financial expenses and treatment limitation, which is very different as compared to plans placed on, for example, surgical benefits.
The ACA requires equity, which means that benefits for substance abuse and mental disorders are equal to all other medical benefits. Individuals can receive the same type of medical help as they would with other medical conditions such as diabetes or asthma (Taylor, 2014). According to the medical reform, the behavioral health services are included in the insurance plan as one of the ten required units of the essential benefits package. The key problem for people with behavioral issues is the access to health services. Patients experience poor health outcomes and cannot receive a qualified medical treatment. Today, social service providers, informal volunteers, and highly trained specialists who work in clinics and hospitals assist in obtaining a proper medical care. Despite the fact that final regulations went into effect in 2014 and there are still some regulations which should be improved, mental health treatments increased by 5.3 % for young people who are covered by their parents’ health insurance (McLaughlin, 2015).
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In conclusion, the Affordable Care Act promises a significant improvement in the healthcare system of the United States. Now, young people can remain under parent’s insurance, companies cannot deny insurance because of the pre-existing conditions, and there are the ending lifetime limits to have insurance coverage. All this points out that gradually more and more American citizens will have an access to the advanced medical treatment. Mental health issues and substance abuse disorders, due to the Affordable Care Act, are treated on the same level with other diseases in the American healthcare system. However, a deeper understanding of the communities and different individuals with substance abuse and mental health disorders is required. Medical therapy should be built on an individual approach that will help patients to overcome mental health issues and deal with abuse disorders. Only with the help of professionals in this field, patients facing behavioral issues can receive a full treatment. Finally, improved way of payment and better-implemented technologies contribute to the successful integration of behavioral health into the care system on a large scale.