INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Mental health services are in high demand largely because of the coronavirus pandemic.
News 8 spoke with behavioral health experts who said mental health care was not readily available and explained the challenges people on Medicare and / or Medicaid face when getting treatment. ‘help.
Mental illness can make everyday life difficult for people. This can have a ripple effect by affecting relationships with family and friends on physical health.
There are 988,000 adults in Indiana with a mental health problem, four times the population of Fort Wayne, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI).
These conditions range from anxiety and depression to prescription drug abuse and suicidal thoughts.
âWith anxiety and depression becoming more prevalent and more obvious to us, the last thing we want is anyone who doesn’t get the help they need,â said Mark Fairchild, director of policies and communications at Covering Kids & Families in Indiana.
Covering Kids & Families of Indiana is a browser to help people get health insurance. Medicare enrollment in Indiana stood at 1,277,996 people in 2020. âMedicare is generally reserved for adults 65 and older or some of those with certain disabilities,â Fairchild said.
However, Medicaid is the nation’s largest public health care funder with 1,695,169 enrolled Hoosiers from February 2021.
Fairchild mentioned that it is traditionally for very low income people, but also for pregnant women and children, because they have a little easier access to this program.
The policy director added that Medicaid insurance is not easy to purchase.
âIt’s easier to qualify for Medicare because traditionally if you’re in that 65 and over category, you are. There’s no control over income and all of the other things you have to do.â , said Fairchild. “With Medicaid, they make it a lot harder not only to get it but to keep it.”
Although Medicaid recipients do not pay out of pocket for care, there are not many health care providers who accept it due to low reimbursement rates. This means that Medicaid does not pay the full cost of the service to the provider.
Fairchild explained, âSo the provider is basically saying, ‘I’ll take Medicaid patients’. I know I’m going to earn less and hope I can make up for that elsewhere because I want to serve them, I want to provide the service, but I’m going to get a lower rate than I’m probably from someone paying themselves or private insurance.
It’s the first story in a series that we call “INside Story”. The rest of Aleah’s stories about accessing mental health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. These stories will air each morning this week on News 8.