What the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Means for the Future of Mental Health Care

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed in March of this past year, and aims to improve all aspects of our country’s health services. One aspect that will be much-improved is the area of mental health care.

Insufficient coverage and a lack of programs that educate the public on mental illness have plagued the United States for quite some time. With the passage of the new law, a number of new provisions aim to change the public’s perception of mental illnesses and offer programs and other initiatives to help those who need mental health care. A few of those provisions include:

  • Improvements to Medicaid (including the expansion of eligibility) that will allow more people to experience the benefits of mental health services
  • Several new options for people with disabilities
  • Improve coordination and communication between primary care and mental health services
  • Much more…

Essentially, what this means is that, over time, individuals with mental illnesses will have access to health insurance that covers mental health and substance abuse services, giving people unprecedented help and cooperation from the government. Other services include prevention programs, new insurance plans for long-term community care, and more.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act also aims to improve health services in the workplace. It specifies that starting in 2014, employers can offer bigger incentives for employees’ positive lifestyle practices or participation in health promotion programs. The PPACA also creates a grant program to assist small businesses to provide comprehensive workplace wellness programs. Grants will be awarded to eligible employers to provide their employees with access to new workplace wellness initiatives.

The grants will be awarded beginning in 2011 with $200 million appropriated for a five-year period. The PPACA spells out that a comprehensive workplace wellness program must be made available to all employees and include health awareness initiatives(including health education, preventive screenings, and health risk assessments) as well as supportive environment efforts (including workplace policies to encourage healthy lifestyles, healthy eating, increased physical activity, and improved mental health).

The improved workplace atmosphere when it comes to mental health awareness is particularly important, as knowledge about mental health is notoriously absent from workplace programs. It has been studied that employees are eager to become more understanding of mental illnesses and ways to treat them, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act aims to accomplish that.

Mental health services will be experiencing a major renovation with the government’s commitment to overall health care reform.  Those with mental illnesses will find it easier to seek help and others will find much more information on mental illnesses to create a better understanding of how mental health services operate. By creating a more cohesive health care system for mental illnesses, our society will not only become more fluid in its operations, but more knowledgeable and, therefore, better for it.

Leave a Reply