August 9, 2011

Access to Urgent Psychiatric Care Severely Limited

Even with good medical insurance, medical care in the USA is becoming more difficult to obtain. Discrimination is part of the cause as shown by my blog here. Now the state of Massachusetts is coming up wanting and this in the field of psychiatric care. See my blog here about concerns of the psychiatric profession. If this is the actions of the psychiatric profession, they may end up with more problems than they can deal with.

While this is only a preliminary study, it points out what is happening in the medical community. Outpatient psychiatric care for even those with good private insurance can go wanting when it comes to treatment. Even if referred by other doctors or emergency departments, care is not always available – and this is the Boston area. So you can imagine what conditions can be like in other large metropolitan areas and then go to the more rural areas and it can only get worse.

To find out how bad conditions are, Dr. Boyd and his team posed as patients insured by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts PPO, the largest insurer in Massachusetts. They called every in-network mental health facility within a 10-mile radius of downtown Boston, claiming that they had been evaluated in an emergency department for depression and then discharged with instructions to get a psychiatric appointment within 2 weeks.

The calls resulted in only eight appointments and of these only four were within the recommended two-week time period. Even more alarming 15 of the facilities never even called back, despite two telephone calls. Another 15 facilities were unavailable because they required that the patient be currently enrolled with a primary care physician affiliated with their psychiatric facility.

Psychiatric care is a money loser for institutions so they limit the amount of services they offer. I like the analogy Dr. Boyd used to compare psychiatric care to a hip replacement saying that the surgeons would fly you in from out of state to do the hip replacement.

Read the article here.

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