New rule offers health insurance coverage to addicts
In the ongoing effort to expand health insurance coverage in the U.S., a new rule has been introduced to the Affordable Care Act. The rule is designed make some 3 million people with drug and alcohol addiction problems eligible for health insurance coverage. While addiction has been considered a medical issue for the past 60 years, only a fraction of the money spent in health care in the U.S. goes toward providing medical care for those struggling with addiction.
Coverage being expanded to all those struggle with addiction
The new rule is not scheduled to be enacted until January 1, 2014, when the rest of the Affordable Care Act will come into full effect. The rule ensures that all people with addiction problems will have access to health insurance coverage regardless of socioeconomic factors. This means that coverage benefits will also be extended to the homeless, the vast majority of whom currently lack health insurance coverage of any kind.
Availability of benefits may be determined by states
Federal officials expect the number of people seeking care for their addiction will double as the new rule goes into effect. This will be dependent on how states choose to manage their Medicaid programs, however, as the coverage being offered to those with drug and alcohol problems will come primarily through these programs. Some states are opting out of expanding the Medicaid program, which could limit people’s access to affordable health insurance coverage.
Insurers respond favorably to new rule
The rule was expected to be somewhat unpopular with the health insurance industry, but insurers have responded well to its introduction. From an insurance standpoint, offering coverage to those with addiction problems creates the prospect for more paying patients in the market. Where these people cannot afford coverage they are likely eligible for federal subsidies that with significant offset the cost of coverage, allowing them to make use of health insurance benefits even if they would not be able to receive such benefits otherwise.