Monday, January 13, 2014

Obamacare and Bipolar People

Medical insurance has often been inadequate to the needs of bipolar patients who are not old enough to receive Medicare but who need help paying for their appointments with doctors and for their prescription medicines. Obamacare offers relief by requiring insurers to cover mental health care and prescriptions.

The differences between the vision of the plan and the actual changes in the lives of bipolar patients that it tries to provide are yet to be revealed. For instance, are there enough mental health professionals to serve all the bipolar patients who may now be able to afford them? Does the financial planning behind the plan envision a realistic scenario for how many patients, doctors, and therapists will be involved? Will the law be effectively enforced?

What the law does not provide is significant, too, and includes support services of various kinds. Mentally ill people who are never well enough to hold down jobs or to pay rent or a mortgage will not be provided with the housing they need. The results will, I expect, be significant numbers of mentally ill people still living on the streets, under bridges, and in railroad yards.

Obamacare, while helping cover costs for mental health care, still leaves significant costs for patients to cover or to have to give up, regardless of how essential they are. On a more positive note, preventive mental health care is free to the patient when the provider is in the network, and the provider must cover the cost for it. Another excellent improvement in health coverage is that patients with a pre-existing condition, like cancer or bipolar disorder, cannot be denied coverage or charged at an inflated rate.

In states that choose not to provide Obamacare, however, residents may have few if any of the benefits available under the new health care program.

The size of the Obamacare program and the number of people involved in making it work are so large that some problems are inevitable. Luckily, CVS and Walgreens will fill prescriptions even for people who are still trying to get their health coverage in place.

While persuading enough younger people to enroll in Obamacare is essential, because as a group, they will need less health care, and this will keep the plan affordable for older citizens who need extra care. An incentive for younger citizens to enroll in Obamacare is that it may cost the significantly less than their current health insurance.

Obamacare offers new hope for bipolar people seeking medical care. 2014 will reveal if these hopes are fulfilled.

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