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Med Care. 2013 Aug;51(8):699-705. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0b013e31829a4f73.

Out-of-network provider use more likely in mental health than general health care among privately insured.

Author information

  • 1Department of Population Health, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016, USA. kyanko.kelly@gmail.com

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Previous research has shown relatively high use of out-of-network mental health providers, although direct comparisons with rates among general health providers are not available. We aimed to (1) estimate the proportion of privately insured adults using an out-of-network mental health provider in the past 12 months; (2) compare rates of out-of-network mental health provider use with out-of-network general medical use; (3) determine reasons for out-of-network mental health care use.

METHODS:

A nationally representative sample of privately insured US adults was surveyed using the internet in February 2011. Screener questions identified if the participant had used either a general medical physician or a mental health professional within the past 12 months. Respondents using either type of out-of-network provider completed a 10-minute survey on details of their out-of-network care experiences.

RESULTS:

Eighteen percent of individuals who used a mental health provider reported at least 1 contact with an out-of-network mental health provider, compared to 6.8% who used a general health provider (P<0.01). The most common reasons for choosing an out-of-network mental health provider were the physician was recommended (26.1%), continuity with a previously known provider (23.7%), and the perceived skill of the provider (19.3%).

CONCLUSIONS:

Out-of-network provider use is more likely in mental health care than general health care. Most respondents chose an out-of-network mental health provider based on perceived provider quality or continuing care with a previously known provider rather than issues related to the availability of an in-network provider, convenient location, or appointment wait time.

PMID:
23774509
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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