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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Drexel: ACA Marketplace Plan Patients Less Likely to Get Mental Health Care than Those on Medicaid or Employer Plans

Among adults with mental health needs, those covered by Medicare or employer-sponsored health insurance have greater access to medical treatment, less out-of-pocket cost and are more likely to receive care than those seeking an appointment through an Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace-sponsored plan, according to new research from Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health. The study, published in  Health Affairs, May, 2019, provides preliminary results on disparities among those experiencing psychological stress since the ACA became law in 2010.

Researchers used National Health Interview Survey data on adults experiencing mental illness—4,500 Medicaid enrollees, 8,600 with employer-sponsored insurance and nearly 900 on a Marketplace plan, and measured access to treatment, specifically whether individuals received or could afford care in the previous 12 months.

Among those seeking mental health care, 5 percent of those with employer-sponsored insurance and 9 percent of Medicaid patients reported trouble getting mental health care, while 12 percent of Marketplace-enrollees experienced this same trouble. Additionally, nearly 12 percent of Marketplace and nine percent of Medicaid enrollees – but only four percent of those with employer-sponsored insurance – reported being unable to be accepted as a new patient during the previous 12 months.

“Although the ACA added about 20 million people to the number of insured in the United States, significant disparities remain,” said lead author Dr. Ryan McKenna, an assistant professor of health management and policy in Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health. “Policy makers must look at this data and remedy these barriers for millions of Americans.”

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