Although it can change lives, therapy can also be prohibitively expensive, averaging anywhere from $60 to $200 per session, depending on where you live. For young adults—who may still be in college or navigating the challenges of low-paid, entry-level jobs—therapy can seem like little more than an expensive luxury. But mental health concerns such as depression and schizophrenia frequently manifest for the first time in young adults. Thanks to two key provisions in the Affordable Care Act, though, more adults between the ages of 18 and 25 are seeking mental health care.
The Affordable Care Act and Young Adults
The Affordable Care Act—popularly known as Obamacare—allows young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until their 26th birthday, expanding the number of young adults who have mental health coverage. The law also requires that insurers cover mental health care, and makes preventive services, such as depression screenings, free.
To evaluate the effects of Obamacare on young adults’ mental health care, researchers looked at government health survey data. They found that, between 2008 and 2012, 20,000 surveyed 18- to 25-year-olds showed signs of a mental health issue. Prior to the advent of Obamacare, 31% of these young adults had sought mental health care. After the law went into effect, the number increased slightly, to 33%. Although the increase is small, 26- to 35-year-olds actually saw a downturn in access to mental health care during the same time period, suggesting that the slight percentage bump is a significant one.
Mental health challenges tend to get worse if left untreated, so early intervention means fewer challenges for young adults facing mental health struggles. Early access to mental health care could also mean fewer academic problems, better social skills, healthier relationships, and fewer challenges adjusting to the stress of adulthood.
- Health Insurance and Mental Health Services. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help/health-insurance/
- Norton, A. (2014, August 4). More Young Adults Getting Mental Health Care Under Obamacare: Study. Retrieved from http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2014/08/04/more-young-adults-getting-mental-health-care-under-obamacare-study
- Pierce, E. (2011, April 20). Therapy costly for the stressed average Joe. Retrieved from http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2011/04/14/therapy-costly-stressed-average-joe/
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