Health Financing

Learn about the impact of legislation on the delivery and financing of health care and how SAMHSA helps providers adapt to the new health care environment.


The delivery and financing of health care has changed in response to recent legislation that aims to improve health care while also making it less expensive for individuals, families, and business owners. SAMHSA works to educate consumers about those efforts and help providers adapt to the new health care environment.

In March 2010, President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, together referred to as the Affordable Care Act. This health care law makes health insurance coverage more affordable for individuals, families, and small business owners. It also includes prevention, early intervention, and treatment of mental and/or substance use disorders as an “essential health benefit” (EHB) that must be covered by health plans that are offered through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

The Affordable Care Act in conjunction with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) of 2008 has already provided an opportunity for new or expanded behavioral health benefits to approximately 60 million Americans and has created programs designed to help states and communities prevent illness and promote health. Under the Affordable Care Act, most health plans must also cover certain preventive services without a copayment, co-insurance, or deductible.

MHPAEA has also contributed to expanding health coverage. The law requires health insurers and group health plans to provide the same level of benefits for behavioral health services that they do for primary care. SAMHSA works to ensure that behavioral health services covered by the Affordable Care Act and the MHPAEA are managed no differently from services for surgical and general medical issues.

SAMHSA helps providers integrate behavioral health services into the broader health system to ensure that mental, addictive, and physical conditions are treated similarly. That effort also includes encouraging the increased use of health information technology for integrated health care. Learn more about health care and health systems integration.

SAMHSA serves as a key subject-matter expert to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on policy issues related to the financing and delivery of behavioral health services. It also develops unique research, analysis, and primary data on financing, including national spending projections for treatment and services.

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Last Updated: 09/15/2017