Thursday, August 06, 2015

While ACA subsidies stand, so do BH challenges


When I read about the Supreme Court ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act in King Vs Burwell, I thought of the impact from two perspectives. First, a general sense of relief that millions of people would not lose their health insurance subsidies, and then a more specific focus would affect those suffering from behavioral health issues.  Sometimes these numbers hit me with great force. Nine million Americans suffer from a mental health or substance abuse disorder.  I begin to wonder, of those millions, how many would be affected if the ruling was not in favor of the ACA

Then I inadvertently came across this story http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/23/living/feat-cnn-parents-facebook-chat-mental-health-addiction/index.html and was happy to see that there are parents using social media as a means to spread the word and be solution-oriented toward behavioral health issues. These parents are communicating wonderfully with each other.  Communication, in my opinion is half of the reason for dysfunction in families to begin with. For many parents, including myself, when we come across an article that talks about education and leading by example as part of the solution to prevention or reduction of behavioral health challenges, I feel incredibly frustrated for the parents out there who do everything right and their child still struggles. While I think it is important to promote parental education, it is also important to say that there are some people who will struggle in spite of this. We as parents want to believe our influence is so much greater than our own child’s innate wiring.

I am finding in any discussions around ACA, people tend to think of behavioral health treatment as some sort of residential stay. At least most people I talk to that are not in the Behavioral Health field seem to have this perception, when most addiction treatment is outpatient and consists of many hours of group and or counseling. Even this clinically lower level of care is extremely costly to someone who has no insurance. A licensed therapist alone will cost anywhere from $150-$250, depending on their credentials. See http://addictionblog.org/FAQ/costs/how-much-does-addiction-counseling-cost/


Now I consider of those nine million affected by behavioral health. How many have co-occurring medical illness that requires ongoing or acute care. The healthcare system has a long way to go in addressing solutions such as treatment capacity and equal care for mental health and addiction, but cutting off subsidies over a few ambiguous words would only have further exacerbated a broken system.

Dorene Kinloch
Communications Specialist 
NCADD-NJ