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Obamacare Helps Young Adults Get Mental Health Treatment

Obamacare Helps Young Adults Get Mental Health TreatmentDespite all the hype and hand-wringing done over Obamacare — aka the Affordable Care Act — there’s a lot of good coming already from its implementation. And if some politicians want to undo this good, they may find themselves up against an increasing vocal minority of their citizens who’ve benefited.

The latest data suggests that we’ve seen a rise in young adults who seek out mental health treatment, because they’re still covered under their parent’s insurance due to Obamacare provisions.

The new data comes from a recently published study in Health Affairs and suggests utilization of treatment services rose 5.3 percent for those with Obamacare, versus those without:

Between September 2010, when the Obamacare provision went into effect, and 2012, when the study ended, young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 who had already screened positive for mental disorders or substance abuse increased their use of mental-health treatment by 5.3% compared with a similar group of 26- to 35-year-olds who weren’t eligible for their parents’ coverage.

Researchers in the study, published Monday in Health Affairs, also found that due to that same Obamacare provision, the number of mental-health visits the younger group had to pay for out-of-pocket declined by 12.4% compared with the older group.

Young people often have had trouble accessing mental health care when they needed it in the past, because either they’ve been unemployed (unemployment rates are higher amongst younger people than older people), had no insurance even if they did work (which is traditionally what a lot of young people do), or had insurance that had limited mental health benefits (like the ones offered by many colleges and universities). While a college counseling center might see you for test procrastination, they’ve been largely ill-equipped to handle serious mental illness and students with those kinds of concerns.

If they don’t have insurance, most young people simply make do. They don’t get treatment for their condition or disorder — especially since the costs of treating it are a weekly burden.

The Affordable Care Act has made it easier for such young people to access treatment — more so than anything else the government has tried. All they had to do was make it possible for young adults to access affordable health insurance — not exactly rocket science.

Of course, these findings will have to be verified by followup research. But if they hold true, they suggest there’s been at least one benefit of Obamacare, and that’s helping people get insurance — and treatment — they otherwise might have gone without.


Read the full article in TIME: Obamacare Leads to Surge in Mental-Health Treatment

Obamacare Helps Young Adults Get Mental Health Treatment

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Dr. John Grohol is the founder of Psych Central. He is a psychologist, author, researcher, and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 1995. Dr. Grohol has a Master's degree and doctorate in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member of the Society for Participatory Medicine. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here.

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APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2018). Obamacare Helps Young Adults Get Mental Health Treatment. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 7 Aug 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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