Mental Health and the Affordable Care Act

As the remedicalization of mental illness changed Americans’ ideas about the men- tal health, public and political pressure grew to put mental health care on a par with physical health care. This view was made law in the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) (discussed further in Chapter 8). Under the ACA, both private insurers and Medicaid (the government-funded insurance program for the poorest Amer- icans) were required to offer comparable coverage for mental and physical health problems, thus increasing coverage for many Americans.

At the same time, by definition the ACA could not help the many Americans who lack any health insurance. In addition, even those with insurance still often find it difficult to obtain care because many providers will not take new patients, accept only certain insurance plans, or take only patients who can pay out of pocket.  Meanwhile, many elected officials are pushing to end or drastically reduce the ACA, which would lead to a dramatic reduction in coverage.

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