YOU ASK:

How will Obama's health care reform affect mental health services?

WE ANSWER:

The health care reform bill will require new plans to include services geared towards mental and behavioral health even for its basic package. This means that one would get to see a psychiatrist or therapist if needed and this will be covered by the insurance.

However, it will depend on what package you choose. At the lower tier, you will pay lower premiums but will have to shell out money for deductibles and co-payments. For higher levels of plans, you will need to pay higher premiums but will enjoy very little or no deductibles.

The bill will also remove "discrimination" towards mental health services. In the past, higher copayments and lower benefit amounts were given for therapists and psychiatrists as opposed to those assigned for specialists and GPs. The new plans provided by the health care reform bill will seek to get rid of this disparity and get increased payments (but lower deductibles) for mental health services.

The new law will also get rid of limits that posed for annual and lifetime amounts. This means that you can continue to receive coverage for the same illness in your lifetime for as long as you keep your plan. This is in contrast with how this is treated in the past, where, once you reach the lifetime limits for any one condition, that condition will be excluded from the coverage.

In addition, you don't have to wait for you to be eligible for insurance and have coverage for mental health services. You can immediately purchase your coverage through high-risk pools. In addition, mental health patients that need long term care can opt for home and community based services rather than becoming institutionalized.

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