Psychiatrists Less Likely To Accept Insurance than Other Physicians

According to a study by Tara F. Bishop, M.D., M.P.H., of Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY, and colleagues, insurance acceptance rates are lower for psychiatrists than for other types of physicians.

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There have been current calls and complaints for augmented access to mental health services, however low insurance acceptance creates a barricade to these services, according to the study background.

Researchers used data from a national survey of office-based physicians in the U.S. to compute rates of recognition of private non-capitated (no set dollar amount) insurance, Medicare and Medicaid by psychiatrists vs. physicians in other specialties. The review also matched characteristics of psychiatrists who endured insurance and those who did not.

According to the study's results, the percentage of psychiatrists who undertook private non-capitated insurance, Medicare and Medicaid in 2009-2010 was lesser than the percentage of physicians in other specialties (55.3 percent vs. 88.7 percent for private insurance; 54.8 percent vs. 86.1 percent for Medicare; and 43.1 percent vs. 73 percent for Medicaid).

"Nonetheless, our findings suggest that policies to improve access to timely psychiatric care may be limited because many psychiatrists do not accept insurance," the authors conclude. "If, in fact, future work shows that psychiatrists do not take insurance because of low reimbursement, unbalanced supply and demand, and/or administrative hurdles, policy makers, payers and the medical community should explore ways to overcome these obstacles."

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