Medicare Covers Alcohol Misuse Screening and Counseling Under Affordable Care Act

Medicare recipients can receive free alcohol misuse screening and counseling, as well as certain programs to help people quit smoking, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These are some of the ways in which the new healthcare law affects people with substance use disorders who are covered by public insurance programs, according to The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati.

The ACA does not require people with Medicare or Medicaid to change insurance or providers, and does not reduce benefits, according to the foundation.

Beginning in 2014, Medicare will cover more drugs, including those that can help people stop smoking. At that time, Medicare will pay for covered substance abuse services at the same rate it pays for physical health services. Co-payments for Medicare-covered substance abuse services will be reduced from 50 percent to 20 percent.

If you have Medicaid, your state may change your Medicaid plan. If you will be new to Medicaid in 2014, you likely will get a “benchmark plan.” These plans may cover fewer services than existing Medicaid plans. But they must cover at least essential health benefits, including substance abuse services. What type and amount of services will depend on your state.

Medicaid will cover more drugs to help you stay well, such as drugs to help you stop smoking, and will pay for covered substance abuse services at the same rate it pays for physical health services.

To find out more about public insurance and substance use disorders under the ACA, visit The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati’s website.

Funding for Join Together is provided in part by an unrestricted educational grant from The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati.

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    August 7, 2012 at 12:28 AM

    This is going to be fantastic for older folks. Most people don’t realize how common alcoholism is among the elderly, but it’s alarmingly common at the clinic where I work.

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    August 3, 2012 at 7:18 AM

    When will Medicare pay Addiction Professionals for addiction related services? Reimbursement is limited to MDs and PhDs. This omission in your article misses the bigger picture! There is a profession that specializes in addction services. When will they be paid?

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