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What the Trump presidency means for addicts

In late October, during a campaign stop in Gettysburg, President-elect Donald Trump laid out what his first 100 days in office will look like.Aca Headline

Among his top priorities, repealing Obamacare. For years the Republican-held House has tried to do this but was blocked by the Democratic-held Senate. After Tuesday’s election, Republicans not only control by houses but also the White House.

So, Obamacare is history, folks.

Here’s what that means if you are a drug addict:

You will not be covered by your parents’ medical insurance until you are 26 and if you try to go out and get your own policy, you can be denied because of a pre-existing medical condition.

That means that if you have a diagnosis for a substance use disorder in your medical history, an insurance company can deny you coverage. In other words, you won’t be able to get insurance.

To many young addicts who have no memory of life before Obamacare, this is going to come as a shock. Get rid of Obamacare and that medical insurance that mommy and daddy have through their employer, it’s only going to cover you until you are 18 or while you are a full-time student.
Say you are one of those young addicts whose parents sent you to South Florida to get clean and you didn’t want to go back to Boston or New York or New Jersey or wherever you came from because it’s below zero  so you deliberately relapse and relapse and relapse so you can live near the beach on an insurance company’s dime. Well, those days are over.

Health Insurance Fraud Warning SignThere is not going to be an insurance marketplace either. That means those treatment centers in Florida that want to buy you an airline ticket so they can sign you up for a Florida marketplace policy and bill the insurance company hundreds of thousands of dollars for urine drug tests – well, those days are over.

There isn’t going to be an insurance marketplace. Surprise! Those marketplaces were created by Obamacare.

Medical insurance – if you can get it – is going to cost a fortune. Deductibles are going to be YUGE and premiums high. And like I said before, that revolving door of repeated relapses you entered so you cold keep your tan, well, that’s called a pre-existing condition. You aren’t going to be able to get insurance.

I know this sounds mean, but this is the reality of drug treatment in South Florida. Obamacare spawned corruption and insurance fraud so widespread that Cigna stopped writing exchange policies in Florida. Two treatment center operators were just arrested and charged with patient-brokering -paying kickbacks to sober homes for addicts with good insurance policies.

What about the Mental Health Parity Act? Won’t that protect addicts seeking recovery?

First, parity only protects addicts WITH insurance by requiring insurance companies to offer mental health coverage on par with other, physical ailments. Second, parity didn’t really have any teeth without Obamacare.

Parity became the law of the land in 2008. By 2013 rules still hadn’t been promulgated to implement it. Insurance companies so flagrantly ignored parity that the bill’s sponsor, Congressman Patrick Kennedy, formed an organization to collect examples of parity violations in order to shame insurance companies into following the law.

It wasn’t until Obamacare’s parity requirements that insurance companies began towing the line. That meant insurance companies could not limit the number of times an addict went to treatment any more than they could limit the number of times a cancer patient received chemotherapy.

Get rid of Obamacare and you essentially get rid of parity.

What does this mean for addicts? You are going to have to really, really, really want to get clean and stay clean. Yes, relapse is a part of addiction as it is for any chronic illness. Without Obamacare, you may only have one shot at treatment covered by insurance – if you can find insurance coverage at all.

Getting rid of Obamacare will likely snuff-out much of the corruption in the drug-treatment industry. But is it going to force addicts seeking recovery to get honest and work a program.






What the Trump presidency means for addicts

Christine Stapleton

Christine Stapleton has been a journalist for 35 years. She is now an investigative reporter for The Palm Beach Post. In 2006, began writing a blog for PsychCentral called Depression on My Mind. Her latest blog, Addiction Matters, draws on her 19 years of sobriety and her coverage of the drug treatment industry in South Florida.

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APA Reference
Stapleton, C. (2016). What the Trump presidency means for addicts. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 24, 2019, from


Last updated: 10 Nov 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 10 Nov 2016
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