Tens of millions of Americans battle mental illness and substance abuse, but up until recently, most of them were not able to receive full coverage under their insurance. That's now about to change under the Affordable Care Act.
Under new federal laws, insurance companies are required to provide full coverage for those battling mental health and addiction problems.
P.J. Brooks is the VP of Outpatient Services at First Step of Sarasota, an addiction recovery program. Brooks says treatment for mental health and substance abuse problems has not been easy to get.
"In most cases, insurances had specific limits as to what kind of mental health and substance abuse treatments you had access to,” Brooks said.
Brooks says up until recently, insurance companies put limits on the number of counselor sessions, or inpatient stays.
“A lot of times, it didn't even scratch the service as to the individual needs of the person,” said Brooks.
Brooks says under the new law, insurance companies are required to provide full coverage and treatment for mental health and substance abuse.
"If they need residential care, they can get that residential treatment service,” Brooks said. “And they don't have to necessarily have limits on how long they have that service.”
Brooks says that means millions of Americans will have access to the proper treatment that they need.
“Those individuals who historically have not had access to care because they either didn’t have coverage or if they didn’t have enough funding for it, now potentially will be able to get the care they need,” said Brooks. “And if it’s available and they get it sooner, they will not have to wait until they end up arrested, or involved with some major system or dead.”
Brooks says if you are interested in taking advantage of these services, give your insurance provider a call.