Obamacare’s treatment of alcoholism and other drug addiction as chronic diseases that must be covered by insurance plans could lead to as many as 40 million Americans entering rehabilitation programs, says the California Health Report.
Government data shows that about 24 million Americans aged 12 and older require treatment for a substance abuse issue — but only 11 percent of them received it at a specialty facility. Obamacare could help eliminate those cost barriers for people seeking treatment. “I don’t think there’s another illness that will be more affected by the Affordable Care Act,” said, Dr. Thomas McLellan, former deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, in an interview with California Health Report.
Substance abuse and drug addiction haven’t always been perceived as chronic illnesses. But since opiate abuse (which been on an alarming rise in America), alcoholism, and other addictions cost about $120 billion per year in health care spending (not counting incarcerations and crime.) The health law puts special emphasis on both treatment and prevention by forcing insurers to cover rehab and encouraging doctors to screen for potential addictions.