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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

Last Updated: 8/7/2014

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center)


Affordable Care Act

Signed into law in March 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has opened the door to obtaining health insurance coverage for many Americans who were uninsured or underinsured, through the new Medicaid expansion or the new Health Insurance Marketplaces. Under this new law, both are required to provide coverage for mental health and substance use conditions with parity to coverage for general health conditions. This is particularly important for individuals who utilize these services, as they are now eligible for greater coverage.

While the law is national, the implementation of it varies greatly State by State. With the many nuances of the law and differences across States, it is of the utmost importance that individuals, families, and healthcare providers are well informed of how these laws affect them, what their options are, and how to navigate the system.

This section offers readers summaries of the ACA and explanations of its many components. It also includes information on insurance plans and how to evaluate them to find one that best suits your needs, as well as information about subsidies, personal information needed to enroll, how to find help in applying, and how assisters can help individuals to enroll. The section features commentaries on how the ACA's new parity requirement will affect mental health consumers. Additionally, it includes discussions of how ACA-related changes to the healthcare system could open up new employment opportunities for peer providers in a broader range of healthcare settings and allow integrated, recovery-oriented services to start to play a larger role in behavioral health care.

Check out the archived training teleconference Time to Get Insured: Learn the Who, What, Why, and How to Enroll in Health Insurance through the Medicaid Expansion or the State or Federal Marketplace.

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This Web site was developed under contract with the Office of Consumer Affairs in SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. The views, opinions, and content provided on this Web site do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of SAMHSA or HHS. The resources listed in this Web site are not all-inclusive and inclusion on this Web site does not constitute an endorsement by SAMHSA or HHS.