Study: Young Adults’ Access to Mental Health Care Better Under ACA
An Affordable Care Act provision is partly responsible for a 2% increase in how many young adults receive mental health care, according to study published in Health Affairs, NPR's "Shots" reports (Singh, "Shots," NPR, 8/15).
For the study, researchers analyzed data from the 2008 to 2012 National Survey of Drug Use and Health. They focused on people ages 18 to 25 with potential mental health or substance use disorders (Saloner/Lê Cook, Health Affairs, August 2014). Under the ACA, young adults are allowed to stay on their parents' health insurance plans until age 26.
Overall, the study found that in the two years following the implementation of the ACA provision, the ratio of young adults with mental health issues who were receiving treatment increased by 2%, up from just over 30% before 2010. According to the study's researchers, the exact reasons for the slight increase are unclear, but there is evidence that the ACA provision contributed to it.
In addition, the study found that the number of uninsured visits to mental health care providers declined by 12.4% and that the number of such visits covered by private insurance increased by 12.9%.
Meanwhile, the number of young adults receiving care for substance use disorders did not change, according to the study.
More Needs To Be Done To Increase Access to Mental Health Care
Brendan Saloner, lead researcher for the study and an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said the health insurance system likely will need to change to further increase access to care for mental health and substance use disorders.
- Ensuring provider networks are large enough; and
- Maintaining continuity of care for patients with transitory insurance ("Shots," NPR, 8/15).