Obama Care’s definition of drug addiction and alcoholism as chronic diseases with insurance coverage eligibility could result in the treatment of 40+ million U.S. citizens in coming years.
Obama Care’s Impact On Addiction Treatment Costs
Current data shows that roughly 24 million Americans ages 12+ are struggling with substance abuse issues requiring professional treatment. However, only a small percentage (11%) received care at a rehabilitation facility – many of which charge an average of $4,000 for admission, or $1,500 for outpatient treatment. Obama Care may potentially eliminate the cost burdens associated with treatment.
“If diabetes were treated like substance abuse, only people in the most advanced stages of illness would be covered, such as those who had already lost their vision or had severe kidney damage,” remarked former Deputy Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Dr. A. Thomas McLellan. “I don’t think there’s another illness that will be more affected by the Affordable Care Act.”
Substance Abuse Treatment Covered Under Primary Care?
Under Obama Care, substance abuse treatment via rehab centers in Texas and throughout the U.S. will be viewed as primary care, with an emphasis on preventative measures. Addiction treatment will be categorized as an “essential service,” requiring health care plans to provide the service to those in need.
By year’s end, under Obama Care, substance use disorder coverage may be comparable to other chronic diseases, such as asthma, diabetes and hypertension. Government insurers (Medicaid and Medicare) will cover everything from smoking cessation and monitoring tests to anti-craving medications, drug and alcohol testing, family counseling, home health visits, clinic visits and assessments.
Likely Change In New Addiction Treatments From Pharmaceutical Companies
As substance abuse becomes legitimized as a chronic illness, pharmaceutical companies will be more likely to focus additional energy on the development of medications and treatment options. “Immense markets are being created,” says McLellan. “Until now, there have been about 13,000 treatment providers for substance use disorders, and less than half of those are doctors. Now 550,000 primary care doctors, in addition to nurses who care prescribe medications, will be caring for these patients.”
Obama Care’s Impact On Other Diseases
Obama Care’s emphasis on prevention and screening may also hinder the formation or progression of other chronic diseases that may indirectly raise health care costs via other medical issues. For example, a diabetic alcoholic may be less likely to use their medications properly, or teens who smoke pot excessively may experience asthma in later life. By placing a focus on budding addictions, the ACA may have a positive impact on the cost of American healthcare overall.
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