Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

With Mental Health Insurance, Price Matters

Date:
December 23, 2008
Source:
Brown University
Summary:
Researchers have discovered that more patients with mental illness will seek follow-up care after a hospitalization if their co-payments for mental health care are as affordable as for their primary care.

More people who need mental health services will seek follow-up care if the price is right, Brown University researchers have found.

Related Articles


After an initial hospitalization, people who suffer from mental health disorders will pursue follow-up care more often if their out-of-pocket costs are brought down to the same level as their primary care co-payments. What’s more, overall costs will drop and the quality of care for the mentally ill will improve if policy-makers and insurers widely adopt the practice, according to a new study by Brown University researchers that counters prevailing research on the topic.

“This has been one of the most hotly debated topics in health policy over the last decade,” said Amal Trivedi, M.D., assistant professor of medical science in the Department of Community Health at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. “What we found is that health plans that have equivalent benefits for mental health and primary care have markedly higher rates of appropriate mental health service use.”

Trivedi’s paper on the subject, “Insurance Parity and the Use of Outpatient Mental Health Care following a Psychiatric Hospitalization,” will be published Dec. 24 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Trivedi, the lead author, conducted his study with Brown post-doctoral fellow Shailender Swaminathan and Vincent Mor, chair of the Department of Community Health at Brown.

Trivedi’s findings counter previous research that showed insurance parity producing only a modest effect on the use of mental health services.

“When plans drop parity, when they make mental health services more expensive for enrollees, the use of appropriate care falls dramatically,” he said. “People are much more price-sensitive to mental health services than what we found for other health services such as mammograms.”

To conduct the study, Trivedi and his colleagues reviewed cost-sharing requirements for outpatient mental and general medical services for 302 Medicare health plans from 2001 to 2006, involving nearly 44,000 patients who had been hospitalized for a mental illness.

They measured the proportion of enrollees who received an outpatient mental health visit between seven and 30 days after a hospitalization for a mental illness.

What they found: More than 75 percent of Medicare plans covering nearly 80 percent of Medicare enrollees required higher co-payments for their mental health care compared to primary or specialty care. But the adjusted rate of follow-up care within a month of a psychiatric hospitalization was nearly 11 points higher in plans where patient out-of-pocket costs were the same for both mental health and primary care, versus plans where out–of-pocket costs were higher for mental health coverage than for primary and specialty care.

Among plans that dropped parity, follow-up visits for psychiatric care within a month of an initial hospitalization dropped nearly 8 percentage points. But the rate of follow-up jumped 7.5 percent in plans where parity remained. Having equivalent primary care and mental health copayments was particularly important for people living in areas with low income and education levels.

The study is significant because most Medicare health plans require greater co-payments or impose special restrictions for the use of mental health services. If mental health co-payments are equal to primary care co-payments, patients will more likely seek timely outpatient care after an initial psychiatric hospitalization. And if that happens, the study’s writers conclude, the appropriate outpatient care will reduce the chances of return visits to the hospital, which are far more expensive.

The paper comes at a crucial time in the debate over mental health parity. Advocates have pushed for years to advance the concept, where co-payments and visit limits are equivalent to those for other types of medical care.

In October, Congress included a mental health parity provision as part of the $700 billion bailout it approved to rescue the nation’s troubled financial industry. The provision requires group health plans with more than 50 employees choosing to offer mental health coverage to cover mental illnesses on par with other medical illnesses. A similar measure in July established parity in insurance coverage for mental health services in Medicare Part B.

The Pfizer Foundation and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality helped fund the study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Brown University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Trivedi et al. Insurance Parity and the Use of Outpatient Mental Health Care Following a Psychiatric Hospitalization. JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association, 2008; 300 (24): 2879 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2008.888

Cite This Page:

Brown University. "With Mental Health Insurance, Price Matters." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 December 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081223172703.htm>.
Brown University. (2008, December 23). With Mental Health Insurance, Price Matters. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081223172703.htm
Brown University. "With Mental Health Insurance, Price Matters." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081223172703.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) Fears of Ebola are keeping doctors and patients alike away from hospitals in the West African nation of Guinea. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Rising Death Toll, Many Survive Ebola

Despite Rising Death Toll, Many Survive Ebola

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) The family of a Dallas nurse infected with Ebola in the US says doctors can no longer detect the virus in her. Despite the mounting death toll in West Africa, there are survivors there too. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Orthodontist Mom Jennifer Salzer on the Best Time for Braces

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Is your child ready? Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins