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Every day, hundreds of sick and injured patients walk into free and charitable clinics around the Tampa Bay area in need of a doctor.Many are suffering from chronic conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Some patients were referred to the clinics by staff at hospitals where they landed after years of neglecting to care for treatable conditions.The clinics allow the patients to pay what they can, or nothing at all. They are staffed by doctors and nurses who volunteer their time. They survive off donations and small grants.Many of the patients have jobs but they are living paycheck to paycheck. None have health insurance, either because they do not qualify for Medicaid or can’t afford private coverage. For these patients, the clinics are often their only option for primary care.

Researcher: Under Obamacare, Costs Go Down For Young Adults With Mental Illness

Karoline Mortensen studies health-care costs.
Karoline Mortensen studies health-care costs.

Mental health care ranks among the most expensive kinds of health care in American medicine—and having a 

Karoline Mortensen studies health-care costs.
Credit Sammy Mack / WLRN
Karoline Mortensen studies health-care costs.

mental illness or behavioral disorder can drive up costs for other kinds of care.

But new research suggests that the Affordable Care Act has helped young people with mental illnesses afford health care—especially young blacks and Latinos.

The study in the journal Psychiatric Services examines how the dependent coverage provision of the Affordable Care Act—a rule allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until they’re 26 years old—has changed what young people with mental illnesses spend on out-of-pocket expenses .

Karoline Mortensen was one of the authors of the study. She’s an associate professor at the University of Miami’s school of business. And she spoke with Health News Florida about the findings.

You can hear the conversation here:

From the study discussion:

Specifically, our findings indicate a significant reduction in 100 percent  [out of pocket] share of health-care expenditures among young adult Latinos, African Americans and young adults from other racial and ethnic backgrounds who had a behavioral health disorder. This is an important finding and shows that the ACA has potentially reduced the financial burden of health care in a demographic group with higher rates of unemployment and lower salaries.

You can find the full study (behind a paywall) at the Psychiatric Services journal online. Health News Florida is also working to improve health-care transparency.

You can help us untangle health-care prices by checking out the PriceCheck tool, which will let you upload your prices and see what other people paid.

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