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Is The Nation Ready To Treat Addicts Insured Under Obamacare?

Apr 29, 2013 10:40 AM EDT

Sixty years after addiction was first identified as a treatable disease, only 1 cent of every health care dollar in the United States goes toward helping those suffering from it, according to the Associated Press.

One likely reason for the discrepancy is simply the lack of health insurance coverage for those with addiction issues, whether it be homeless individuals or the millions barely getting by.

Come the enactment of the Affordable Care Act in less than a year, however, an Associated Press analysis of government data, including addiction rates in all 50 states and provisions within the law, estimates the number of people seeking treatment could double, depending on how many states decide to go ahead and expand their Medicaid programs.

However, as Josh Archambault of the Pioneer Institute, a nonpartisan public policy research center in Boston, told the news outlet, the problem has to do with more than just coverage.

“Advocates just get so excited, but at some point, reality is going to hit and they’ll find it’s not all it was cracked up to be,” he said.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, only an estimated 10 percent of the nation's 23 million people living with addiction issues receive treatment. Meanwhile, places like Minnesota, which has one of the highest substance abuse rates in the nation at 11.6 percent of the population, are already trying to find room for nearly half a million individuals in need of treatment in the face of less than 4,000 inpatient beds, according to federal data.

Another daunting task is simply the sheer size of the paperwork needed to apply for “Obamacare.”

A draft copy released by the government to certify eligibility for the program’s subsidies is 60 pages long with about 1,000 questions, and that doesn’t even include the state paperwork needed if a person is eligible for Medicaid.

According to the Washington Examiner, the government is hiring tens of thousands of health care professionals, union workers and community activists to help individuals applying for coverage to navigate the process. However, with an estimated 5.5 million with addiction problems joining the ranks of those affected by the Affordable Care Act, just sitting down with someone to go over the paperwork may be challenge.

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