ACA and Mental Health - our first Healthcare Story

As part of our efforts to put a human face on the ACA vs. AHCA debate, we are asking our members to share their stories about healthcare with us. Here is our first story, from Psychologist Philip Bender. 

I'm a mental health professional, and the ACA has actually done a lot for my field. Mental health and addiction are two of the required coverage areas under the ACA, which has opened doors to many many people who were not able to get care before. I work at a hospital in NYC right now, in an addiction program as well as an outpatient psychiatry clinic. We see a lot of patients who depend on their coverage to get these much-needed services. Before the ACA, many plans would not cover these services. If they did, they would have session caps, effectively neutering treatment for many sick people. But I have seen patients turn their lives around with the right help, going from living in a homeless shelter with crippling addiction to working, managing their mental illness, and supporting themselves, and it's all because they had insurance that covered these services.

Healthcare still has its problems. Mental health professionals are extremely under-compensated by insurance companies, which discourages many private practitioners from accepting it. But on the whole it has been a story of improvement under the ACA. The Republican plan would allow states to individually scrap these mandates altogether. My patients will most likely be ok because New York will hold onto these requirements, but in many states people who suffer from addiction or mental illness, both preexisting conditions, will be priced out of this so-called 'free market,' and those who manage to remain insured may lose access to their mental health services.

- Philip Bender