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Expanded Coverage for Mental Health Care Will Help Older Americans –

Medicare will now cover therapy appointments that are made with licensed marriage and family counselors and licensed professional counselors.

Age isn’t a huge factor when it comes to experiencing mental health issues. It’s been well-documented that more young people than ever before are struggling with such problems, and getting those children the help they need should certainly be a top priority. But older Americans should not be forgotten along the way. Old age does not prevent someone from having mental health issues just because they’ve lived longer, and it’s been difficult for people in this demographic to get the help they need and deserve. Luckily, lawmakers are now recognizing that expanded coverage for older adults is needed.
Thanks to a recent change in Medicare coverage, it may now be easier for millions of people to get the assistance they need to overcome their struggles. Paying for professional help is often the main hurdle in the way of making an appointment and getting started with care, but if those appointments are at least partially covered by Medicare, the process will become more manageable for many.
The primary change that people with Medicare coverage should be aware of is that Medicare will now cover therapy appointments that are made with licensed marriage and family counselors and licensed professional counselors. This is a huge group of professionals that make up a large portion of all mental health providers in the country, but previously, the government funded insurance option wouldn’t cover sessions. With the ability to turn to these professionals, it will be much easier for older adults in need to get assistance.
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This is important in part because many Americans live in areas where it’s hard to come by mental health care, in general. If they don’t have access to some of the professionals in their area, it becomes even harder to get an appointment that will be paid for by insurance, and they are more likely just to not get any care at all. It is mostly rural areas where the issue is felt acutely, so this change could be a big help. Also, since it’s in rural areas that people struggle to get the right care, advancements in telehealth to connect with a provider who isn’t in the same physical location can also be advantageous.
While expanding the coverage of Medicare should be a net positive overall, there are concerns about the low rates paid by Medicare to providers in various disciplines. If rates are too low for many professionals, they may decline to accept Medicare insurance as a form of payment, so the expanded coverage might not wind up being as beneficial as hoped or expected. Only time will tell how many of the now-eligible providers wind up agreeing to take Medicare as part of their operations.
As more and more older adults become aware of the expanded benefits that are now offered through Medicare, it seems inevitable that more of them will take advantage of the opportunity to see a counselor to discuss the struggles they are facing. That alone won’t alleviate the mental health crisis that continues to plague millions of Americans, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
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