The ever-awaited implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is upon us. No matter your political persuasion, the ACA will mean change for the Texas mental health care system. But exactly what will change? Here is a round up of what you need to know to navigate the waters:
The Current Status of Texas Mental Health
Let’s start with some statistics. Right now, Texas has the highest rate of people uninsured in the country, with 6.1 million citizens (23.8% of all Texans) living without coverage. It ranks among the lowest states in spending per capita for mental health. Further, individuals with issues of mental health are twice as likely to not have insurance as those without a mental illness.
Currently under Texas law, all employers with over 50 employees must provide coverage for serious mental illnesses (SMIs) and other similar issues such as depression and schizophrenia. Most private insurance plans for mental health patients include psychiatric day hospitalization, screenings, and both outpatient and inpatient care. North Dallas counseling services typically include all of these.
The ACA and Texas Mental Health Patients
Since Texas has opted not to establish its own exchange, the federal government is in charge of implementing the changes. The ACA will modify a few major aspects of Texas’ mental health system:
- Each plan must include a set of 10 major benefits, the most important of which include mental health and substance abuse services, preventive and wellness care, emergency services, maternity support, and pediatric help.
- According to the official benchmark plan, individuals with mental health issues will receive 25 outpatient visits and 10 days of inpatient service per year. People who struggle with substance abuse will additionally have 3 outpatient and 3 inpatient series of treatments per lifetime fully covered.
- In addition, insurers are no longer allowed to deny an individual coverage due to the pre-existing condition of mental illness.
How the ACA Affects North Dallas Mental Health Professionals
Much of the media attention has focused on health care consumers. But how will it impact medical care providers?
- One of the major changes is that practitioners will be required to implement or generate electronic patient health records. The hope, of course, is that it will promote greater efficiency and streamline medical administrative processes.
- Another part of the ACA is the increasing integration of Texas mental health providers into the general medical system as a whole. Consequently, the ACA encourages quality patient-centered homes, which should ease the burden off of hospitals and clinics.
- Finally, the ACA also pushes rigorous outcome-based assessments of medical practitioners. This means that the success North Dallas counseling service providers will be more strictly judged based on results.
In general, Texas mental health care practitioners who do not follow those rules will lose the rights to federal funds, which provide a chief source of financial support for those institutions. The federal government offers technical and economic assistance to those providers who request it.