With the recent changes made towards ObamaCare, it could have an impact on many Americans including those with mental health issues. Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness NJ, Phil Lubitz told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that the extensions of preexisting policies by the president in the Affordable Care Act are disappointing.
“It’s a little bit disappointing,” said Lubitz. “I think we want to keep focusing on really the larger issue. There relatively small number of policies that were discontinued as result of the new requirements and the law there’s health benefits including mental health parity but over all the vast majority of the plans are going to be covered in the exchange are still going to have full mental health parity. So when a person goes to the exchange and buys that new policy, the vast majority of them are still going to have mental health benefits.”
If the changes go through, Lubitz says its going to make a difference to possibly one in every four Americans that are going to be diagnosed with a behavioral health condition. In New Jersey there is no requirement that an insurance policy has to cover mental health parity, the coverage of treatment has to be equal to the the treatment of other illness, and mental health treatment. In January when the law takes effect it will reenforce the federal mental health parity act from 2010 according to Lubitz.
Lubitz also mentions that there is a concern over there not being enough mental health providers. Having more people insured will bring more money according to Lubitz so he hopes more it brings more providers to meet the need as more people will get insured.
According to Lubitz, primary care physicians already prescribe in terms of mental illness and that there needs to be more support and understanding for primary care physicians when dealing with mental illness.
When the changes towards the Affordable Care Act were announced, Lubitz says it’s been a huge difference, something that has been waiting to happen in the state since 13 years ago when the partial mental health parity passed in New Jersey in 2001.
“It’s estimated that the Affordable Care Act is going to result in about 200,000 people who already have a behavioral health disorder, substance abuse disorder, a mental disorder,” said Lubitz. “200,000 people now are going to be able to have insurance coverage for the first time for the treatment of those disorders.”