Those trapped in addiction stand to benefit from increased access to help
Under U.S. health insurance reform U.S. citizens have parity in coverage of medical and behavioral health conditions. “This is good news for millions of chemical-dependent people,” says Bobby Wiggins the Director of Drug Prevention for Narconon International.
There are three significant areas affected by insurance reform. Previously uninsured individuals with addiction as a pre-existing condition are now eligible to be insured. College children are included in their parents’ plans with the increase of the cut off age for coverage raised to 26. Health insurance plans that will become available through State Health Insurance Exchanges in 2014 must include substance abuse benefits. Further, insurance plans are barred from requiring higher levels of cost sharing or imposing more stringent benefit limitations for substance abuse treatment.
The 2011 National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS ) Report, released earlier this month, shows that insurance reforms could lead to immediate and significant change in how Americans deal with substance abuse.
13,688 substance abuse treatment facilities participated in the N-SSATS survey. Excluding 539 (4%) facilities that provide free substance abuse treatment, 65 percent reported that they can and do accept private health insurance now. “What insurance reform means for Narconon® facilities is that we will be able to reach many more people who need help,” says Wiggins. “Certainly, we will continue our primary efforts to prevent addiction, but substance abuse remains a problem of epidemic proportion. Handling those already addicted is an immediate concern.”
Efforts within the rehabilitation field over the last several years to set up to accept health insurance as a means of payment are likely to pay off based on the findings of the survey. Some key findings that show why are presented here.
Facilities that accept private insurance are more likely to use a sliding fee scale (68 vs. 57 percent) which opens treatment to larger numbers. Facilities that accept private health insurance are more likely than those that do not to have agreements or contracts with managed care organizations (67 vs. 20 percent), a finding that is consistent with the fact that managed care is now the predominant type of private insurance.
Facilities that accept private health insurance are more likely to accept adolescents into treatment (58 vs. 33 percent). This is a trend that is expected to continue.
Facilities in urban areas are less likely than facilities in non-urban areas to accept private health insurance (75% + vs. 50% +). This can be predicted to change. “Ultimately, these trends mean the salvage of a lot more lives,” said Wiggins. “No one benefits when addicts can’t get the help they need.”