With the recent vote to repeal parts or all of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, by the new Trump administration, there has been plenty of discussion and concern over the effects the repeal will have on the access of healthcare for the general public. Of primary concern is the mental health field and the progress the ACA made in making mental health care accessible to all. While Obamacare was not perfect and could certainly use some revising, aspects of the act helped to ensure those in need of mental health care were covered. Repealing the ACA could reverse some of the key actions that made mental health care more accessible to the estimated 20% of the population who suffer from mental illness.

The two biggest components of Obamacare effecting mental health are the requirement to include mental health care as an “essential health benefit” on all health insurance plans and the ban on denying or charging more for individuals with pre-existing conditions. Without a current plan to replace Obamacare, it is uncertain if mental health care will continue to be covered by most or any insurance companies. However, there is a likelihood that mental health coverage will no longer be a requirement as it is under the Affordable Care Act. If this in fact becomes the reality, many individuals will likely not be able to afford health insurance that covers mental health or will not be able to afford out-of-pocket costs for necessary mental health care. With Obamacare, individuals with pre-existing conditions are protected as insurance companies cannot deny or charge higher premiums to insure these individuals. It was estimated that mental illness was the second most common pre-existing condition that lead to coverage denial prior to Obamacare being enacted. Repealing the ACA may mean this protection is removed or lessened, creating yet another barrier for the mentally ill to access necessary services to maintain their well-being.

While most discussion surrounding the repeal of the Affordable Care Act is speculation at this point, it is certain that there will be some back-tracking on the progress made to protect and provide coverage for those suffering from mental illness. To what extent that back-tracking will be remains to be seen. For those of us working in the mental health field, there is plenty of apprehension and fear for our clients who depend on their mental health care to stay well. However, until a replacement plan is proposed it will be unclear the potential devastating effect this may have on the mental health community as a whole.

For more information, contact Holly Morgel at Lakes Area Youth Service Bureau at 651-464-3685 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..