News in Brief

Access to mental health care has expanded significantly post-ACA

Studies find more patients are receiving mental health treatment while more insurers are covering treatment.


Mental health treatment rates increased significantly and more insurers are willing to cover the cost of treatment since implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to two studies.

In 2014, ACA-driven Medicaid expansion and private insurance exchanges kicked in, giving millions of Americans potential access to new behavioral health coverage.

Analysis of data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2005-2014 found survey respondents in 2014 were significantly more likely to receive mental health treatment then previous respondents, according to a study by Brandeis University and Harvard Medical School researchers.

Additionally, the study authors found of the 2014 respondents with serious psychological distress or substance use disorders, there was an estimated 81.5% rate of insurance coverage—a significant increase over all pre-2014 time periods.

A study in Health Affairs also noted an increase in mental health treatment being covered by both public and private insurers—up to 68% in 2014 from 44% in 1986.

Other ACA news

  • Insurers in several states are seeking double-digit rate increases for the upcoming ACA plan year, including Golden Rule’s request for a 40.6% hike in Colorado and Anthem’s request for a 26.8% hike increase in Connecticut. The average weighted hike request across 31 states is 22%, according to tracking site Learn more about proposed rate increases.
  • Bloomberg reports that U.S. states that embraced the ACA’s Medicaid expansion are seeing less debt sent to collection agencies. Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that U.S. counties that had high pre-ACA rates of uninsured people in states that expanded Medicaid saw their per capita collection balance fall. In counties with high rates of uninsured people in states that didn’t expand Medicaid, the collection balances grew larger.

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