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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

How Health Reform Affects Your Depression Care

If you have depression, you're not alone. In fact, in every group of 10 people, chances are that one person is clinically depressed.

Because depression is so common, the Affordable Care Act includes ways to get you the help you need. That includes depression screening as well as treatment with counseling and medicine. Many health plans will have to cover this care starting in 2014.

Depression Screening

You should be able to get evaluated for depression free of charge. Most plans must offer this as a preventive service.

Only so-called grandfathered plans offered by employers do not have to offer free screening tests. These are plans that were in place before the Affordable Care Act was signed into law on March 23, 2010. They do not have to cover all the benefits that are now seen as essential. But many of them still do. Read your plan's summary of benefits to see what's covered and how much your share of the cost is.

Depression Treatment

Your health plan also should cover treatment for depression. (Only grandfathered plans do not have to cover this, but some of them will anyway.)

The Affordable Care Act requires that health plans cover mental health services as one of the essential benefits, too.

Be aware, though, that each state decides the details of the required mental health coverage for any health plans sold on their state's health insurance Marketplace.

Experts think health plans in many states will cover treatments such as:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Medicine for depression
  • Inpatient mental health treatment
  • Case management
  • Crisis intervention

You might even find your family doctor taking part in your depression treatment. As part of health reform, primary care doctors are urged to work with specialists on complex conditions like depression.

The goal is to make it easier for you to treat your depression. And, with the right treatment, you may be better able to prevent a relapse.

Savings on Depression Drug Costs for Seniors

If you have Medicare and take medicine for depression, you may be pleased to know thatthe donut hole -- the gap in Medicare coverage for prescription drugs -- is slowly going away. It will be gone by 2020, leaving you to pay just 25% of the cost of your brand-name and generic medications. See "What Medicare Costs, Part D" to get the details, including what discounts are available until the donut hole closes.

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