10 May How the Affordable Care Act Can Help Addicts
Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) raises as many questions as it does answers. Will the ACA help addicts get treatment? Are there any significant changes that will put a dent in the drug abuse epidemic plaguing the U.S.? If so, how will addicts become aware of such changes?
The Treatment Landscape Pre-Affordable Care Act
Before the ACA came into existence, many insurance companies would not pay for substance abuse treatment services. That meant that addicts who wanted to attend a drug detox or rehab center had to come up with the money for treatment. As such, most addicts went without treatment.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health states that only about 10 percent of the 23 million addicts in America actually get the treatment they need in order to get and stay clean. This means that over 20 million men and women are active addicts living in a world of addiction and pain.
Changes Under the Affordable Care Act
The biggest change that the ACA brings is “essential health benefits.” This means that many insurance carriers are now obligated to offer treatment for alcohol and drug addiction. Many addicts can enter detox and rehab centers without having to worry about the high cost of care. For this reason alone, many addicts may reach out for help sooner, instead of waiting for “rock bottom.”
This also opens doors for primary physicians to provide addicts with short-term treatments in the office as an attempt to curb the disease before it gets worse. Additionally, the medical field will put more efforts into preventative services and early intervention, which could lower the number of people who require inpatient drug rehabilitation. This could save a lot of people a lot of money.
Health experts predict that by the end of 2014, the ACA will change the way professionals and the public look at substance abuse and recovery. In much the same way as insurance covers other chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes, insurance will hopefully cover substance abuse. Addicts could have the same services as those struggling with other diseases, such as screenings, assessments, evaluations and medication if needed. Experts would also like to see home health visits be covered as well.
The pharmaceutical companies are working diligently to create helpful medications that doctors can offer addicts who come to them for help. It seems that this market has been limited in former years, but now that the ACA has come forth, we may see drug reps visiting the more than 550,000 doctor’s offices across the United States.
The Affordable Care Act could be a godsend to addicts who have wanted treatment but couldn’t afford it in the past. According to the Californian Health Report, up to 40 million drug addicts may enter rehab programs now that there is financial help. For those who have not had health insurance due to self-employment or because they fell in between income guidelines, the availability of reduced rate health insurance could help millions of people access the care they need.
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