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All clinicians worry about mental health access

May 25, 2016
by Julie Miller, Editor in Chief
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A recent survey of more than 2,300 physicians and psychiatric providers by healthcare staffing firm LocumTenens.com revealed that even with parity laws, increased coverage and other favorable policies, access is not improving for patients seeking treatment for mental disorders.

Parity

Psychiatric providers were split on whether they believe parity has improved access to care for patients, with 30% saying yes, 40% saying no, and another 30% unsure of its impact. However, just 10% of emergency medicine specialists and 12% of primary care providers believe access has improved under recent parity provisions.

New federal efforts to enforce parity laws include an agency task force that is scheduled to conduct listening sessions nationwide to evaluate the scope of parity issues reported among patients. In the meantime, individual patient appeal processes and lawsuits against insurers seem to be the main course of action.

According to LocumTenens.com, clinicians also commented on the insurance limitations around length of stay, the lack of integration with primary care providers and the lower reimbursement mental health providers often receive from insurance companies.

Available care

In the survey, 92% of psychiatrists and psychiatric advanced practitioners said they believe there aren’t enough available beds for inpatient care. Comments indicated that clinicians are disappointed by how often prison is the default option.

Additionally, 83% of psychiatry specialists say there aren’t enough practicing psychiatrists today to meet the need for appropriate care.

“This survey reinforced the feedback we receive from our providers and clients that we need more attention and resources focused on mental health treatment,” said Kevin Thill, executive vice president of LocumTenens.com's psychiatry division, in a statement. “With statistics showing that the average delay between onset of symptoms and intervention is around 10 years, patients with mental illnesses are going far too long without the care they need to lead healthy lives.”

Data is presented here.

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