Half Of Psychiatrists Accept Medical Insurance, Says New Study

According to a new study, the number of psychiatrists who accept private insurance is shockingly low. In 2005 and 2006, only about 72 percent of psychiatrists accepted private insurance — compared to 93 percent of other doctors. That number then decreased in 2009 and 2010, when only 55 percent of psychiatrists accepted private insurance. America.

"It seemed to fit in well with my personal experience of referring patients to psychiatrists and stories that I've heard from other doctors," Dr. Tara Bishop, an assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medical College said of the findings. "It's certainly something that I have to think about on a regular basis — about which doctors take insurance and which ones can see my patients.”

The research, published in JAMA Psychiatry, did not conclude on any specific reasons why psychiatrists are so much less likely to accept private health insurance. But the numbers illustrate a very urgent narrative about the lack of mental health access and help that people are currently receiving in America.

On Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden announced that mental health services are going to receive a $100 million increase in government funding. According to a White House statement, the funds will be used “to increase access to mental health services and improve mental health facilities as part of the Administration’s ongoing commitment to help individuals experiencing mental health problems.”

The Affordable Healthcare Act promises to help improve Americans’ access to better mental healthcare. Proponents say it will make mental healthcare more accessible to more people: individuals will no longer be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition like depression or anxiety, and Medicaid will continue to cover the high cost of related prescriptions for seniors.

These are all steps in the right direction, but Dr. Tara Bishop and her research team suggest that way more needs to be done by way of policy making and government legislation before mental health patients are treated equally and can afford the proper care they need.

“Our findings suggest that policies to improve access to timely psychiatric care may be limited because many psychiatrists do not accept insurance," the study authors said. “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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