Behavioral Health Surge
Crain’s Health Pulse July 10, 2013
Behavioral health providers are likely to be in heavy demand once the ACA takes effect. Not only will many uninsured New Yorkers get coverage, but the law removes existing state exemptions.
Currently, health plans that cover small businesses can set limits on the number of inpatient mental health or substance abuse treatment care days. The ACA will eliminate those limits and lift similar restrictions on outpatient care.
Under the state's Timothy's Law, health plans that cover 50 employees or more must provide parity—meaning they must offer as much mental health care as they do medical care. But there is an exception for small plans.
"We haven't done any calculations on what that will cost under the ACA," said a spokeswoman for the New York Health Plan Association, "but we agree that it will increase demand."
At a June meeting of the state Department of Health's Public Health and Health Planning Council's planning committee, member Dr. Glenn Martin, a psychiatrist, predicted that providers will be overwhelmed with patients seeking treatment. Relatively few therapists take insured patients because the payments are too low, he said. "I'm one of the few who do."