ACA Helps Young Adults to Access Better Mental Health Services

The number of young adults who are at risk for mental health problems and substance abuse are now increasingly seeking care due to a provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The number of young adults who are at risk for mental health problems and substance abuse are now increasingly seeking care due to a provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The health law extended the age limit for young people could that they could stay covered under their parents’ insurance plans to age 25. Now, nearly 2 million young adults have gained health coverage as a result of that provision.

In fact, researchers from Johns Hopkins and Harvard found that people ages 18-25 years old were 5.3% more likely to receive mental healthcare when compared to a similar group of people ages 26-35 year old. Study findings also discovered that the number of covered visits rose 12.9%, while uninsured doctor visits that required patients to pay out-of-pocket were down 12.4%.

“The dependent coverage provision could be especially important for young adults because mental health and substance use disorders peak in young adulthood, and insurance coverage has historically been low among young adults,” the study said.

The National Institute of Health said that by age 24, 75% of people begin to show serious signs of mental illness. Treating mental illness can be costly— and before the health law’s passage—more than half of all mental health and substance abuse care for young adults was paid for by out-of-pocket finances. These costs kept many from seeking the care they needed.

“The fact that less than half of children and adults with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need is unacceptable,” said Vice President Joe Biden in a statement.

HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell also recently announced that $54.6 million of ACA funding would support 221 health centers in 47 states and Puerto Rico. The funding will establish or expand behavioral health services for over 450,000 people nationwide, and will go toward hiring new staff as well as toward substance use disorder health services.

“These awards will further reduce the barriers that too often prevent people from getting the help they need for mental health problems,” said Ms Burwell. ”Health centers with these awards are on the front lines of better integrating mental health into primary care and improving access to care through the Affordable Care Act.”

Around the Web

Study: Obamacare Helping More Youth to Get Mental Health Treatment [MSNBC]

HHS Awards $54.6 Million in Affordable Care Act Mental Health Services Funding [eNews]