Changes to Medicare Increase Access to Behavioral Health Services

Share Article

Mental health screenings and coverage for prescription drugs increase says behavioral health counselor Ben Brafman

The expansion of coverage gives more seniors access to behavioral health services without them having to choose between their health and their wallet.

Access to behavioral health services has been improved under changes to Medicare plans which go into effect this year. Starting in 2013, behavioral health service screenings, such as screenings for depression and alcohol abuse will be covered under certain Medicare plans. The plans can also choose to cover prescription drugs commonly prescribed for mental health disorders such as benzodiazepines such as Valium and barbiturates for the first time.

“More and more seniors are dealing with behavioral health conditions like depression, anxiety and alcohol abuse,” said Ben Brafman, CEO and founder of Destination Hope, a nationally recognized substance abuse and mental health treatment facility and The Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center, both located in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “The expansion of coverage gives more seniors access to behavioral health services without them having to choose between their health and their wallet.”

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), between 1992 and 2008, substance abuse treatment admissions for people 50 and older more than doubled in the United States. As the baby boomer generation continues to grow, admission numbers are expected to continue to rise for behavioral health services. A study reported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) indicates that seniors become increasingly at risk for depression alongside other illnesses and as their ability to function decreases. NIMH reports estimates of major depression in older people living in the community range from less than 1 percent to about 5 percent, but that estimate rises to 13.5 percent in those who require home healthcare and to 11.5 percent in elderly hospital patients.

“Mental health disorders do not necessarily start at a young age. Many people find themselves facing depression or anxiety or even alcohol abuse after the age of 65, especially those that may feel isolated because of other physical health conditions. Just like treating diabetes or heart disease, behavioral health services can give a senior back control in their life,” said Mr. Brafman.

Behavioral health services can be covered under various Medicare plans, including Medicare Part B and Medicare prescription drug plans. Open enrollment season for Medicare runs October 15, 2012 – December 7, 2012. During open enrollment, seniors may make changes to their existing Medicare plans or change in or out of a Medicare Advantage (managed care) program.

Destination Hope is a substance abuse and mental health facility that offers gender specific behavioral health services, including alcohol abuse and mental health therapy in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Since 2000, Destination Hope has been a strong voice in the community for those suffering from behavioral health issues and offers a variety of community and healthcare professional education seminars and continuing education classes. As part of their community outreach, Destination Hope’s executive team started the Academy for Addiction Professionals, an educational academy for individuals looking to earn a license to practice in the addiction field.


About Destination Hope and The Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center
The Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center is a full service behavioral health services treatment facility in Florida for men and women suffering from mental health disorders. Along with its sister programs, Destination Hope and Destination Hope: The Women’s Program, The Sylvia Brafman Center offers comprehensive behavioral health treatment for families and individuals in an intimate gender specific therapy environment. From mood and thought disorders to dual diagnosis treatment, The Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Program and Destination Hope offer behavioral health services that give people the opportunity to regain control in their life.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Alton Smith
Follow us on
Visit website