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Affordable Care Act May Not Increase Access for Mental Health

Affordable Care Act May Not Increase Access for Mental Health

The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover mental health care just as they would with physical care; however a new study shows that only half of psychiatrists accept insurance. What does this implication have on Americans? This would mean that people that suffer from depression, bi-polar disorder, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and many other mental health issues would be limited to those who can pay for the treatment out of their own pockets. Or they would be forced to choose from psychiatrists that do accept health insurance, which may differ from a doctor that they have already been seeing prior and are acquainted with, despite the law.

From 2009 to 2010, 53% of psychiatrists accepted insurance, compared with 89% of all other physicians who did, said Tara Bishop, associate professor of public health and medicine at Cornell Medical College per USA today. She drew her findings by looking over data from the National Center for Health Statistics and released her team’s findings in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

“We saw declines in the last few years in rates of acceptance, and we were wondering why,” Bishop said. “I think we’ve all heard a lot of patient stories and doctor stories about trying to find a psychiatrist who takes insurance.”

Affordable Care Act

Image Courtesy of CSULB

“It seemed to be getting worse in more recent years,” she said. “We saw similar things for Medicare: 54.8% of psychiatrists took Medicare, as opposed to 86% of other physicians.”

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, a staggering 1 in 5 adult Americans suffer from a mental health illness in a given year. With that sort of statistic, it is understandable why many would want to seek help from and be able to rely on their insurance companies to provide coverage as they would with other illnesses, especially through The Affordable Care Act.

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