A new study from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill shows that the likelihood of an individual to seek treatment for a mental health condition increased significantly following the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare.
The study was published in the medical journal Psychiatric Services and found both specific and overall increases in mental health coverage under the ACA. Mental health patients are now 8% less likely to be uninsured, 4% less likely to report unmet needs because of cost, and 6% more likely to report a steady care source.
The conclusion is that accessible mental health care results in more people seeking treatment. That said, there are still serious barriers to affordable mental health care including an intense social stigma around these conditions. Even post Obamacare, more than 80% of Americans suffering from depression do not seek medical help.
Fortunately, as care becomes more accessible, more previously untreated individuals will come forward for care.
North Carolina Health News quotes the authors of the study, who said, “There is evidence that people receiving comprehensive care can improve mental health functioning and, subsequently, their rates of employment.”
As for healthcare in general, the United States has come a long way. In 1962, only 50% of people over 65 had health insurance. As of 2015, that number went up to 98% for the same demographic.
Gallup reported in January 2015 that two out of every five individuals under 65 got their insurance through their employer. The most telling statistic of all, however, is that 91.2% of all Americans now have health insurance through some source. There might be flaws in the system, but between 2015 and 2016 almost one million more people got access to healthcare.
Perhaps the trend toward universal healthcare will continue on its upward trajectory. For now, those who suffer from mental health conditions can take solace in the fact that coverage and treatment methods are improving every day.